As discussed here, the court documents in the case raise questions as to how carefully the Intercept protected its source in pursuing the story. For example, the reporter at one point sent a copy of the report to a source in the contracting world — and that source turned around and reported the activity to authorities. Also: The reporter told the source that the top-secret report had been sent from Augusta, where Winner resides.
Faced with questions on its handling of the situation, the Intercept on Monday declared in a short statement that it had no “knowledge” of the source’s identity. The outlet elaborated on Tuesday morning with this statement:
On June 5 The Intercept published a story about a top-secret NSA document that was provided to us completely anonymously. Shortly after the article was posted, the Justice Department announced the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old government contractor in Augusta, Georgia, for transmitting defense information under the Espionage Act. Although we have no knowledge of the identity of the person who provided us with the document, the U.S. government has told news organizations that Winner was that individual.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. Winner faces allegations that have not been proven. The same is true of the FBI’s claims about how it came to arrest Winner.We take this matter with the utmost seriousness. However, because of the continued investigation, we will make no further comment on it at this time.
According to those documents, Winner “admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a ‘need to know,’ and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified,” reads an affidavit in support of Winner’s arrest. “WINNER further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the News Outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents.”