WikiLeaks offered a $10,000 bounty Monday aimed at getting a reporter for The Intercept fired, following the arrest of a government contractor who allegedly leaked an NSA report to the site.
The Justice Department announced earlier Monday that it had arrested Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old government contractor, for leaking classified documents to a news organization. It has been widely reported that Winner allegedly leaked documents from the NSA to The Intercept about Russian attempts to hack U.S. elections officials.
Investigators were able to find Winner in part, according to a government court filings, because of clues gained when an Intercept reporter showed the leaked report to the government.
WikiLeaks tweeted late Monday night it would pay a $10,000 bounty “for information leading to the public exposure & termination of [the] ‘reporter'” who asked an government agency to verify a leaked report without removing possibly incriminating evidence about its leaker.
It’s not clear which reporter purportedly showed the document to the government — and thus, who the WikiLeaks bounty would target. Four reporters have bylines on The Intercept story.
Reporters typically have the authors of leaked documents authenticate them and comment on their significance. Without authenticating documents, more fabrications would slip through.
According to the Justice Department affidavit, the reporter showed an Augusta, Ga.-based intelligence contracting company leaked documents he had received postmarked from Augusta, believing that firm might have been the source. The documents were also provided to a federal agency, which contacted the FBI. Evidence from the documents was used to identify Winner as the leaker, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the charges, and Winner subsequently confessed.
It is unclear if anything the reporter could have done would have prevented Winner from getting caught.
According to the report, “the U.S. Government Agency determined that six individuals printed this reporting. Winner was one of these six individuals. A further audit of the six individuals’ desk computers revealed that Winner had e-mail contact with the News Outlet. The audit did not reveal that any of the other individuals had e-mail contact with the News Outlet.”