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US Intelligence Contractor Pleads Not Guilty to Leaking Charge


Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for sending classified material to a news organization, poses in a picture posted to her Instagram account.

A U.S. intelligence contractor pleaded not guilty on Thursday to a charge of leaking a classified report on Russian election interference to a media outlet.

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, who was ordered to remain held without bond, is accused of leaking a National Security Agency report to The Intercept, according to officials.

The NSA document provided technical details on what it said were Russian attempts to hack election officials in the United States and a voting-machine firm before the U.S. presidential election in November.

Winner became the first person charged with leaking classified information to the media under the administration of President Donald Trump.

Trump, who has repeatedly vowed to crack down on leakers, believes anyone found guilty of unlawfully disclosing government secrets should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said at a press briefing ahead of the detention hearing for Winner.

First Amendment advocates have said they are concerned the Trump administration may use Winner's case to chill what they view as legitimate government whistleblowing. They were also critical of the Obama administration's approach to leaks, including its pursuit of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

A sign used by a small group of demonstrators rests on steps during a demonstration to support intelligence contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, after she was charged with leaking classified documents, June 7, 2017.
A sign used by a small group of demonstrators rests on steps during a demonstration to support intelligence contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, after she was charged with leaking classified documents, June 7, 2017.

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