WASHINGTON — The woman who says she received explicit photos and messages from a well-known former intelligence officer and defender of NSA surveillance policies has apologized for releasing the photos.
The national security community on Twitter was sent into a frenzy on Monday after John Schindler, a Naval War College professor and former NSA intelligence and counterintelligence officer who is well-known on the internet as a vehement defender of NSA surveillance and foe of Edward Snowden, was accused of sending a photo of his penis and a flirtatious email to a woman who lists her name as Lesley on Twitter and uses the handle @Currahee88.
Lesley allegedly gave screenshots of both to @T3H_ARCH3R, a self-described Internet troll she is friends with, and he posted the photos online. Naval War College said that it was investigating Schindler and put him on leave.
Lesley tweeted on Tuesday that she was "truly sorry" and that "if I could go back and change this I would do so immediately." She also stated that the photo was not unsolicited and that her aim had been to embarrass Schindler and inform his wife. She then deactivated her Twitter account.
@T3H_ARCH3R, whose real name is Trent Jensen and who has also deleted his Twitter account, told BuzzFeed that he was surprised when Lesley apologized.
"I knew she was going to talk today but I thought she was going to be standing up and saying this is what happened and this is why she shouldn't be getting harassed," Jensen said.
Jensen said that Lesley asked for his help in spreading the photos online: "When the posts went up, that's when she came to me and said she was feeling harassed or whatever," he said.
Jensen said he wasn't sure if he regretted posting the photos, which he said he was confident are real.
"I don't know," he said. "Because the thing of it is [Schindler] is somebody that's supposed to be instructing our people on how to do things the right way. The information that was presented to me was that she was the victim. It was 'Hey I need help.' She reached out to me for help."
"When a friend asks you to do something and you do it you have to own it," Jensen said. "So I own that I posted it and she has to own what she said today."
Lesley has not responded to requests for an interview from BuzzFeed.
Jensen said he did not decide to do this out of any political beliefs.
"I don't have any real political affiliation, I was just trying to stick up for her," he said. He told BuzzFeed that both he and Lesley have received threats since the publication of the photos, and that "I've been getting a lot more than her because I'm the one who posted the photos."
"I go at all kinds of different groups and I love to troll, that's an internet term if you're not aware of it, just for the hell of it," Jensen said.
He said that he and Lesley know each other from both supporting the Wounded Warrior project, which he said Lesley has raised money for. He otherwise declined to give any other information about Lesley.
Schindler, who deleted his Twitter account after the photos were published, declined to comment.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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