The Intercept insisted in a statement Tuesday that it has no knowledge of the identity of the person who leaked it a classified National Security Agency document pertaining to the Russian hacking before the 2016 presidential election. The document was the basis for a bombshell report The Intercept published on its website Monday night.
The NSA announced Monday that it had brought charges against Reality Leigh Winner, 25, of the Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia, for allegedly leaking the documents, apparently to The Intercept. Winner had top secret security clearance, and an internal audit found that she was one of just six people who printed the leaked documents, and the sole person to have made contact via email with a news outlet. She reportedly admitted to leaking the information, and was arrested on June 3.
"While the FBI's allegations against Winner have been made public through the release of an affidavit and search warrant, which were unsealed at the government's request, it is important to keep in mind that these documents contain unproven assertions and speculation designed to serve the government's agenda and as such warrant skepticism," The Intercept wrote in its statement. "Winner faces allegations that have not been proven. The same is true of the FBI's claims about how it came to arrest Winner."
The Intercept has faced heavy criticism from journalists for publishing images of the documents given to them by their NSA-connected source, which apparently helped lead authorities straight to Winner. "If The Intercept had simply reported the info and the NSA hadn't known they had a document, it likely would have been harder to find the leaker," one D.C. insider told Reliable Sources.
Winner faces up to 10 years in prison for allegedly mailing the classified information to The Intercept.