JUDGE

’I Screwed Up Royally’: Accused NSA Leaker Confessed to FBI Agent

Reality Winner is accused of copying and mailing a classified report containing top-secret material to an online news organization

Russia Hacking Accused Leaker
Lincoln County Sheriff's Office via AP, File

Court records show a young woman charged with leaking U.S. secrets told FBI agents she was frustrated with her job as a government contractor when she tucked a classified report into her pantyhose and smuggled it out of a National Security Agency office in Georgia.

Prosecutors included the 78-page transcript of Reality Winner's interview with FBI agents in a court filing Wednesday urging a judge to keep the 25-year-old jailed until her trial. 

The transcript shows Winner confessed to FBI agents, telling them: "Yeah, I screwed up royally."

Prosecutors have previously said Winner admitted she copied the document and mailed it to a news outlet. Their court filing makes the transcript of her confession public.

A judge has scheduled a hearing Friday on Winner's latest request for bond.

The former Air Force linguist, who speaks Arabic and Farsi and had a top-secret security clearance, was working as a government contractor in Augusta when she copied and mailed a classified report containing top-secret material to an online news organization, prosecutors say. The federal crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if she's convicted.

Authorities haven't described the report or named the news outlet. But as the Justice Department announced Winner's arrest on June 5, The Intercept reported it had obtained a classified National Security Agency report suggesting Russian hackers attacked a U.S. voting software supplier before last year's presidential election. The NSA report was dated May 5, the same as the document Winner is charged with leaking.

During a bond hearing on June 8, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari warned U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps that Winner might have more stolen secrets. Solari said investigators had learned Winner inserted a portable hard drive in a top-secret Air Force computer before she left the military last year. She said authorities don't know what happened to the drive or what was on it.

"We don't know how much more she knows and how much more she remembers," Solari said. "But we do know she's very intelligent. So she's got a lot of valuable information in her head."

Winner's mother and stepfather told the judge she had no criminal history and they would use their 20-acre home in Kingsville, Texas, to finance her bond with confidence she would never run.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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