Espen Moe/Flickr (CC-BY)
Did the Intercept’s reporting get their own source arrested?
WikiLeaks is offering $10,000 for information about a reporter who they claim helped lead to the arrest of intelligence contractor Reality Winner, 25, who allegedly leaked classified NSA documents to an unnamed media outlet believed to be the Intercept.
The documents showed that the NSA believes Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on a United States voting software supplier days before the presidential election, the Intercept reported on Monday.
WikiLeaks claims the reporter spoke with a government official with whom he had a prior relationship and told them they had received documents in the mail that were postmarked from Augusta, Georgia—where Winner lives.
WikiLeaks says the money will be given to someone who helps lead to the reporter’s “public exposure & termination.”
WikiLeaks issues a US$10,000 reward for information leading to the public exposure & termination of this 'reporter': https://t.co/W9wijCk5d3
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 6, 2017
Winner is accused of removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet. Prosecutors say Winner admitted to intentionally leaking the document when she was arrested on June 3 in Georgia.
According to the Department of Justice, Winner printed the documents around May 5 and “unlawfully retained it” before sending it to a news outlet. The FBI was notified of an upcoming story by the news outlet later that month, according to Winner’s affidavit.
An internal audit found that Winner was one of six people who had printed the document and that Winner had “e-mail contact” with the news outlet.
According to Errata Security, a security research blog, Winner may have been tracked down due to nearly invisible yellow dots that appear on printed pages. When decoded, the dots give a detailed log of when the page was printed and the printer’s serial number.
— Norton Auto-Updater (@quinnnorton) June 6, 2017
The Intercept posted a statement on Tuesday saying that they had “no knowledge” Winner was the source of the document they received.
The website added that it was “important to keep in mind” that the complaint and affidavit contain “unproven assertions.”
“Winner faces allegations that have not been proven,” the statement reads. “The same is true of the FBI’s claims about how it came to arrest Winner.”
The Intercept said it will not be commenting further, citing the ongoing investigation.
While some people are criticizing the Intercept for contacting the government to verify the document—and adding that they came from Georgia, as Wikileaks claims—some reporters are defending the news outlet.
Journalist Yashar Ali started a tweet thread explaining why the Intercept needed to handle the situation the way they did.
Ali said by someone anonymously mailing a document to a news organization, it can be assumed that the leaker made efforts to make sure they would not be caught. When the Intercept asked if the document was real, it was obvious that the Department of Justice would begin looking into where the documents originated, Ali claims.
You can read all of Ali’s tweets here.
Update 1:30pm CT, June 6: Added statement from the Intercept.
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