Arrested NSA contractor has ties to rural South Texas town

25-year-old NSA contractor Reality Winner has been arrested for allegedly leaking classified information to an online news organization.

RICARDO, TEXAS (KIII NEWS) - 25-year-old NSA contractor Reality Winner has been arrested for allegedly leaking classified information to an online news organization.

The document details a 2016 Russian cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supply company.

Winner grew up in Ricardo, Texas, where residents were quick to say they were not interested in speaking about their former neighbor. She went to H.M King High School, where the district superintendent issued a statement saying the district “has no information to share because the district abides by the Family Education Rights to Privacy Act."

After high school, Winner joined the U.S. Air Force where she obtained a top secret clearance for her job.

One woman who spoke to 3News and did not want to be identified said Winner was a nice girl.

“Reality, she seemed to me, she seemed like a really sweet girl,” the woman said. “And the family keeps to themselves. They're not like nosey neighbors or anything. And I hope everything turns out to be okay, because what I heard happened is kind of crazy.”

U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold said he was surprised to hear that someone from South Texas was accused of something like this. He spoke with 3News via Skype Tuesday about going to the press when whistle blowing.

“I think that is an absolute last resort,” Farenthold said. “There were inspector generals she probably had access to. Her training included a path for whistle blowing. There's always the Government Oversight website. If she was worried about a Republican controlled congress, there was always Congressman Filemon Vela, who's actually a very strong Democrat.”

Congressman Filemon Vela represents the Kingsville area and issued the following statement Tuesday:

"The release of an intelligence agency’s detailed findings of Russian interference with US elections is a concerning development. Disclosing classified documents—as the President did when sharing highly sensitive information with Russian officials at a White House meeting – is fraught with peril. Both the substance of the disclosure and the method by which it was released, reinforce the need for the establishment of an independent commission to investigate Russian meddling in our electoral process.  Until we understand the scope of the problem, we will not be able to prevent future attacks, and those who are frantically working to block a full and open investigation in an effort to protect themselves are doing a disservice to our national security and our nation."

© 2017 KIII-TV


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