Russian intelligence agents hacked a US voting systems manufacturer in the weeks leading up to last year’s presidential election, according to the Intercept, citing what it said was a highly classified National Security Agency (NSA) report.
The revelation coincided with the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, who was charged with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet. It was not immediately clear if the incidents were related.
The hacking of senior Democrats’ email accounts during the campaign has been well chronicled, but vote-counting was thought to have been unaffected, despite concerted Russian efforts to penetrate it.
Russian military intelligence carried out a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than a hundred local election officials days before the poll, the Intercept reported on Monday.
The website, which specializes in national security issues, said the NSA document had been provided to it anonymously and independently authenticated. “The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed US government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light,” it continued.
On Monday afternoon, the justice department said Winner was arrested by the FBI at her home on Saturday and appeared in federal court in Augusta on Monday. She is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, assigned to a US government agency facility in Georgia, it added. She has been employed at the facility since on or about 13 February and held a top-secret clearance during that time.
Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, told the Guardian that her daughter was a former linguist in the US air force who spoke Farsi, Pashto and Dari.
“I never thought this would be something she would do,” said Winner-Davis. “She’s expressed to me that she’s not a fan of Trump, but she’s not someone that goes and riots and pickets or stuff.”