Report suggests Russia hackers breached voting software firm

The charges were announced shortly after The Intercept published a report, based on a highly classified intelligence report, that alleged Russian military intelligence carried out a cyberattack against a US voting software supplier.

The Intercept's reporting reveals new details behind the conclusion of USA intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence services were seeking to infiltrate state voter registration systems as part of a broader effort to interfere in the election, discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help then Republican candidate Donald Trump win the election.

A 25-year-old United States government contractor has been charged with mishandling classified information, after authorities say she gave a top-secret National Security Agency document to a news organisation.

While the complaint doesn't definitively outline how much the alleged cyberattack affected the outcome of the USA election, the document is, in the words of The Intercept, "the most detailed United States. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light".

The NSA report, dated May 5, says Russian military intelligence attacked a US voting software company and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials at the end of October or beginning of November.

According to reports, the document leaked by victor is the same one cited in an article published Monday by The Intercept.

As a result, a USA intelligence officer who declined to be identified in Monday's report, cautioned against drawing major conclusions because the analysis is single source and non-definitive.

As a federal contractor with Pluribus International, Winner had top-secret clearance and worked at an unnamed government facility in Georgia where an NSA facility is also located. Its products are used in eight states: California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

"Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards", the NSA concluded, citing information "that became available in April 2017".

The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Julie A. Edelstein of the U.S. Department of Justice's National Security Division's Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia. The indictment against victor alleges she "printed and improperly removed" classified intelligence reporting that was dated "on or about May 5, 2017".

Reality Leigh Winner is accused of "removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet".

"I never thought this would be something she would do", Winner-Davis said.

"My client has no (criminal) history, so it's not as if she has a pattern of having done anything like this before", Nichols said in a phone interview Monday. "All this craziness has happened all of a sudden". Approximately a few days later, victor unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.

In affidavits filed with the court, Garrick of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said the government was notified of the leaked report by the news outlet that received it.

"I think she's trying to be courageous for me", Billie Winner said.

Investigators thus queried their systems' audit logs, and found that six people had printed out that particular document: the work computers of those six were searched, and only Winner's had evidence she had been in contact with the news website.

Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia.

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