Air Force Vet Turned NSA Contractor Reality Winner Pleads Guilty To Leaking

news
Reality Winner
Public domain

Reality Winner, the first person to be prosecuted by the Trump administration for leaking sensitive government information, pleaded guilty Tuesday to sending to the news media a top-secret National Security Agency report about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.


Her plea agreement calls for her to serve five years and three months behind bars, though she will be sentenced at a later date.

“All of these actions I did willfully, meaning I did them of my own free will,” she told the court.

The Intercept, an online publication that specializes in national security coverage, published an article based on the report, saying Russian military intelligence sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials and launched a cyberattack against a Florida-based voting software supplier that contracts in eight states.

Winner’s supporters have hailed her as a patriot, while her critics have blasted her as a naive and reckless leaker whose actions could deter others carrying more explosive government information.

The government prosecuted the 26-year-old former Air Force linguist under the Espionage Act. She has been held in jail outside of Augusta without bond for more than a year. Her trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 15.

Last week, her mother, Billie Winner-Davis, speculated the Espionage Act was too difficult to fight. A World War I-era law aimed at spies, it does not take into account whether leaks are done in the public interest or whether they damage national security.

Winner also suffered a series of courtroom defeats in rulings handed down by U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Brian Epps. The judge, for example, rejected all but one of her attorneys’ 41 requests to subpoena the White House and numerous states and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CIA and the National Security Council, for classified information.

Meanwhile, Winner’s health suffered in the Lincoln County Jail, where she was attacked by another detainee, according to her family. She also injured her knee in a fall while being transported for a court hearing, landing face-first while shackled and handcuffed.

“What we can do now for Reality Winner is ask that the court consider her actions and service to her country and community as her punishment and sentence is determined,” her mother said on Twitter this week.

In a letter to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year, Winner called her unsuccessful attempt to get out of jail on bond “a new low in my life.”

“There are no words,” Winner said, “to describe how it felt to have a government prosecutor say to the world that I was … I don’t even know, a jihad sympathizer? I can’t even spell that right, ha.”

———

©2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

CAMP PENDLETON — The military prosecution of a Coast Guardsman accused of murder began Wednesday with a preliminary hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Seaman Ethan W. Tucker, 21, was arrested August 28 after a seven-month Coast Guard investigation into the January death of Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, who served on the same ship as Tucker— the Kodiak, Alaska-based high endurance cutter Douglas Munro.

Read More Show Less

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.

Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

Read More Show Less

President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.

It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.

The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.

Read More Show Less

BYESVILLE — A Meadowbrook High School student removed from class last Friday for being intoxicated is now facing a felony charge after allegedly threatening to shoot people if the previous incident harmed his chances to join a branch of the United States military.

Gabriel D. Blackledge, 18, of Cambridge, is facing one count of making terrorist threats, a third-degree felony, filed by the Guernsey County Sheriff's Office on Thursday. Blackledge remained incarcerated in the county jail on a $250,000 bond with no 10 percent allowed, according to the sheriff's office's website.

Read More Show Less