Arrest in relation to attempt to sell Pelosi computer

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

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

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

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

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 Ms Williams.

The tipster said Ms Williams “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,” according to the affidavit.

The investigation remains open.

The timing of her initial court appearance was not known.

The FBI earlier said it appeared Ms Williams had deactivated her phone number, took down social media accounts and fled an address near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that she shared with her mother.

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

Dozens of suspects have been arrested since a crowd egged on by Mr 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.

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