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NSA Leaker Winner Pleads Guilty

A former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor has pleaded guilty to leaking key intelligence on Russian attempts to target officials ahead of the 2016 election.

Reality Winner, 26, now faces a sentence of 63 months after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors, according to reports.

Winner, who was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 2016 before taking up a job with outsourcer Pluribus International, is said to have printed out a top secret intelligence report before scanning and sending it to The Intercept.

She was caught after the publication shared it with the authorities whilst trying to authenticate it: tiny microdots on the paper apparently identified the printer that had been used as well as the date and time.

The information she disclosed was incendiary, revealing the true extent of Russian state-backed efforts to disrupt the US elections.

It detailed intelligence reports revealing that Kremlin hackers had spear-phished at least 100 state and local voting officials in the week prior to election day, beginning with a US voting software supplier.

The report noted:

“Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named US company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting US local government organizations.”

Winner’s motivation appeared to be anger at the lies she was regularly exposed to at work on Fox News.

Last year, prosecutor, Jennifer Solari, argued that Winner had been “mad about some things she had seen in the media, and she wanted to set the facts right,” according to the New York Times.

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