Woman accused of stealing Pelosi’s laptop turns herself in

FBI is investigating a former lover’s accusation the woman stole a laptop from House Speaker Pelosi to sell to Russia.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends her weekly news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 15, 2021 [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Federal authorities have arrested a Pennsylvania woman accused of stealing a laptop computer or hard drive from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the storming of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, US media have reported.

Riley June Williams was arrested on Monday and charged with unlawfully breaching the Capitol building and disorderly conduct, the Associated Press said, citing a Justice Department official.

The New York Times reported that Williams had turned herself in to local police on Monday. The Justice Department did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

The FBI said in a court filing on Sunday that Williams was seen on video taking “a laptop computer or hard drive” from Pelosi’s office. It is investigating whether she tried to sell the device to Russian intelligence.

According to the affidavit filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia, the FBI received a tip from someone who said they were a former romantic partner of Williams. The affidavit also notes law enforcement in Williams’s home, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, responded to a suspicious persons report filed by Williams’s mother on January 2021.

The former lover is thought to be the “suspicious person” about whom the report was filed.

Riley June Williams, who is accused of unlawfully breaching the US Capitol building and directing people to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, is seen in an undated driver’s licence photograph [FBI/Handout via Reuters]

The FBI repeated in court filings the lover’s allegations that Riley “intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service,” the affidavit stated.

“The transfer of the computer device to Russia fell through for unknown reasons and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it,” the affidavit continued.

The investigation remains open. The timing of her initial court appearance was not known.

The FBI earlier said it appeared Williams had deactivated her phone number, taken down social media accounts and fled her Harrisburg address.

The theft of electronic devices from congressional offices has been a persistent worry following the siege of the Capitol on January 6 by supporters of Trump, who will leave office on Wednesday.

Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, said on Twitter the laptop stolen was from the conference room and only used for presentations. It is unknown how desirable the contents of such a laptop would be to Russian intelligence.

Dozens of suspects have been arrested since a crowd egged on by Trump attacked the Capitol in a bid to halt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election win. Many took video and photos of themselves taking part in the rampage.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather at the west entrance of the Capitol during a “Stop the Steal” protest outside of the Capitol building in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021 [File: Stephanie Keith/Reuters]

The FBI has opened more than 200 investigations of individuals possibly involved.

Trump was impeached last week by the House for inciting insurrection and now faces trial in the Senate.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies