Reality Winner, former NSA contractor who pled GUILTY to leaking classified docs, arrived in court for sentencing clutching the New Testament on Thursday
Winner, 26, apologized to the court, acknowledging that what she did was wrong
She was earlier photographed smiling and clutching a copy of the New Testament as she arrived in court
She was then sentenced to 63 months behind bars for copying a classified document at work and mailing to an unidentified online news outlet in 2017
It’s believed the document she leaked was about Russian government efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software
Although she was facing a 10 year sentence, her attorneys argued in mitigation that she suffers from depression and bulimia and otherwise has a clean record
Former NSA staffer, Reality Winner, flashes a victory sign arriving court for her sentencing on Thursday clutching a copy of the New Testament Bible
A former government contractor who pled guilty to the theft of a classified U.S. report which she then mailed to a media outlet was sentenced to more than five years Thursday as part of a deal with prosecutors, the longest sentence ever imposed for a federal crime involving leaks to the media, prosecutors said
Reality Winner, 26, was convicted in June on a single count of transmitting national security information.
The former Air Force translator worked as a contractor at a National Security Agency’s office in Augusta, Georgia, when she printed a classified report and left the building with it tucked into her pantyhose. She later admitted to feds that she mailed the document to an online news outlet.
It’s believed the document Winner [photo], leaked was about Russian govt efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software
Authorities never identified the news organization. But the Justice Department announced Winner’s June 2017 arrest the same day The Intercept reported on a secret NSA document. It detailed Russian government efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software and the accounts of election officials ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The NSA report was dated May 5, the same as the document Winner had leaked.
U.S. intelligence agencies later confirmed Russian meddling.
The judge’s sentence was in line with a plea agreement between Winner’s defense team and prosecutors, who recommended she serve five years and three months behind bars. Prosecutors said in a court filing that punishment would amount to ‘the longest sentence served by a federal defendant for an unauthorized disclosure to the media.’
Winner spent a year in jail before reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. Her attorneys had argued for Winner to be released on bond, noting she had no criminal record and had served honorably in the military. The judge sided with prosecutors who said Winner posed a potential flight risk and may have stolen other classified documents.
Prosecutors also used Winner’s own words against her, including a Facebook chat in which Winner once wrote to her sister: ‘Look, I only say I hate America like 3 times a day.’
Winner’s social media postings also included some scathing opinions on President Donald Trump. Three months before her arrest, Winner posted on Facebook that climate change was a more important issue than health care ‘since not poisoning an entire population seems to be more in line with ‘health’ care, and not the disease care system that people voted for a soulless ginger orangutan to ‘fix.”
Winner seen smiling in court, had been working as a linguist for the NSA translating documents from Farsi to English, before she was arrested for the document theft last year
Ultimately Winner did not have to face extra charges, despite the warnings from prosecutors that she may have stolen other U.S. secrets..
the Kingsville, Texas native enlisted in the Air Force after graduating from high school. where her ability to speak Arabic and Farsi opened doors to a security career as a linguist, and spent four years assigned to the NSA at Fort Mead, Maryland.
During that time, Winner provided real-time translation to Americans conducting field missions.
After leaving the military, Winner moved to Augusta as a civilian contractor for the NSA, translating documents from Farsi to English. She confessed to leaking the classified report when FBI agents questioned her at her home in June 2017. – The translator who said she was frustrated at work, told the FBI agents ‘Yeah, I screwed up royally,’ before she was arrested.
Prosecutors later made the 77-page transcript of Winner’s FBI interview part of the court filing. Actual details about the document she leaked and the organization she mailed it to were redacted, but the rest of her confession became accessible to the public.