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Treasury official charged with leaking records related to Russia probe

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A senior Treasury Department employee was arrested and charged with leaking sensitive documents about figures connected to the Russia investigation to a reporter, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, was charged with disclosing "suspicious activity reports" (SARs) beginning in October 2017, the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York said.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement that Edwards "betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information."

"SARs, which are filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions, are not public documents, and it is an independent federal crime to disclose them outside of one's official duties," Berman said.

Prosecutors said Edwards leaked documents related to Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, the Russian Embassy and Maria Butina, among others. The information was used in approximately 12 news stories, according to the indictment.

Natalie Edwards. Alexandria Sheriff's Office

Edwards, 40, was arrested on Tuesday and arraigned on Wednesday in federal court in Virginia. She was released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond and placed in the custody of her parents. The judge barred her from contacting the reporter as part of her release, and limited her travel to eastern Virginia and the Southern District of New York.

According to the criminal complaint, Edwards admitted to the FBI agents who interviewed her that she was a "whistleblower" but that she only gave the journalist the reports for the purpose of "recordkeeping." Prosecutors allege Edwards saved the sensitive reports on a flash drive and sent photos of the documents to the reporter over an encrypted app. They add that she was in possession of the flash drive when she was arrested, and her cellphone contained her communications with the reporter.

Edwards is charged with one count of unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports and one count of conspiracy to make unauthorized disclosures of suspicious activity reports, both of which carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Clare Hymes contributed to this report.

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