Federal prosecutors in New York City arrested Treasury advisor Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards for leaking details about Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to the press. According to The Daily Beast, the senior advisor provided information about the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to media sources.
Edwards allegedly leaked financial information about Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the Russian Embassy, accused Russian spy Maria Butina, and a Russia-owned company accused of laundering money. The Treasury employee allegedly put information on flash drives and gave then photographed the documents in order to send them to reporters via text. She also allegedly forwarded emails to reporters.
“Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior-level FinCEN employee, allegedly betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information contained in suspicious activity reports (SARs) to an individual not authorized to receive them,” Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
While there are no specifics about which news organization Edwards was working with, speculation suggests that several articles published by BuzzFeed contain information that could have come from Edwards. Several articles published by BuzzFeed are mentioned in the complaint.
While arresting Edwards, the Department of Justice located the flash drive and Edward’s phone.
“We hope today’s charges remind those in positions of trust within government agencies that the unlawful sharing of sensitive documents will not be tolerated and will be met with swift justice by this office,” said Berman.
Treasury officials had been aware of leaks within the organization over the past year and have worked to determine where they were coming from. Employees told The Daily Beast that they were concerned that the leaks could undermine the department’s reputation and credibility.
“This is really an amazing thing, for someone to have done this and for that person to have gotten caught. This just doesn’t happen here all that often. The fact that we uncovered this scheme is a big win for us,” an anonymous Treasury official told the Daily Beast.
The official, a FinCen senior adviser, saved the encrypted messages she exchanged with a reporter. Agents said they found them after searching her cellphone. pic.twitter.com/Ae8AzBUT1I
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) October 17, 2018
Edwards isn’t the first official to be arrested for allegedly leaking information. Reality Winner was sentenced to five years in prison for her part in leaking government reports, the longest sentence ever given in federal courts for a leak of this nature.
Ali Watkins pleaded guilty to lying about providing classified information to reporters after prosecutors seized years of phone and email records.