Over the past several decades, hundreds of ‘leakers’ have gained security clearances, obtained private information and siphoned it off to public sources. Most recently, a high-level senior Treasury Department employee was taken into police custody under the suspicion of providing a journalist with private bank records.
This case is related to national security because the bank records obtained by the journalist involved government-level actors like Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. The records reveal interesting money transactions between the two and Maria Butina, an accused Russian agent.
According to Geoffrey Berman, an attorney who spoke with a journalist from MarketWatch, the leaked documents, called suspicious activity reports, are used by banks to report potentially illegal transactions to police, but they are confidential. It is a federal crime to leak such information to the public.
The complaint alleges that 40-year-old Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards leaked the documents to a news organization. The information eventually was published in a story by BuzzFeed News. Edwards reportedly used an encrypted application on her cellphone to send the information. She allegedly also had a flash drive that held photographs of the information.
On October 16, she was taken into custody for the illegal disclosure of private information. The following day, she appeared in federal court in Virginia. She has been released from custody until her trial, but she has been prohibited from contacting any co-workers or the reporter.
Prosecutors have alleged that some of Edward’s co-workers may have conspired to leak the documents according to FBI investigations, but no further arrests have been made at this time.