Owner of The Intercept assisting accused NSA leaker’s legal defense

The parent company of The Intercept online news outlet announced Tuesday that it is helping the legal defense of the Augusta suspect in the National Security Agency leak investigation. At the same time, The Intercept admitted some fault in Reality Winner’s predicament.

“The ongoing criminal case prevents us from going into detail,” Intercept editor-in-chief Betsy Reed wrote online Tuesday, “but I can state that, at several points in the editorial process, our practices fell short of the standards to which we hold ourselves for minimizing the risks of source exposure when handling anonymously provided materials.”

The U.S. Justice Department has accused Winner of leaking to The Intercept a top-secret NSA report about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Intercept published the report, which says Russian military intelligence officials tried to hack into the U.S. voting system just before last November’s election.

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Owned by First Look Media, The Intercept provided federal officials a copy of the classified information, court records show. Investigators said the pages appeared "folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space." They quickly identified six people who had printed the materials, including Winner, and found she had email contact with the news agency.