Document leaker Reality Winner released from federal prison

The former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking top secret information on an...
The former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking top secret information on an almost free woman. Reality Winner leaving prison today after more than three years into five year sentence, but she’s not exactly free yet.
Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 1:10 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - National Security Agency document leaker Reality Winner has been released from federal prison to home confinement.

She’d been behind bars since June 2017 for leaking a classified report containing top-secret information to a news organization.

Winner is a former active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force and had been working in Augusta as a government contractor for Pluribus International Corp.

Federal court documents showed Winner had "top secret clearance."

Winner entered a plea deal in the case and pleaded guilty in 2018 to a single count of transmitting national security information. Winner was sentenced to five years and three months in prison, which prosecutors said at the time was the longest ever imposed for leaking government information to the news media.

She tested positive for coronavirus while in prison and was denied compassionate release, which her family sought, saying she was medically vulnerable.

Her release was not a product of the pardon or compassionate release process but rather the time earned from her “exemplary behavior” while incarcerated, her attorney said.

She was sent to home confinement just a few months ahead of her release date of Nov. 23, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

She’d been in a federal prison near Dallas.

Her release was hailed as a cause for celebration after advocates had spent years fighting for her release or a pardon. Her lawyer, Alison Grinter Allen, said in a statement that Winner and her family are working to “heal the trauma of incarceration and build back the years lost.” She said they are “relieved and hopeful” after her release from prison.

Winner is still barred from public statements and appearances, and she and her family requested privacy.

The former Air Force translator worked as a contractor at a National Security Agency office in Augusta, when she printed a classified report and left the building with it tucked into her pantyhose. Winner told the FBI she mailed the document to an online news outlet.

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.

At the time of her sentencing, Winner was given credit for more than a year she spent in jail while the case was pending in U.S. District Court.

“My actions were a cruel betrayal of my nation’s trust in me,” Winner told the judge at her sentencing in August, 2018.

Previously, Winner had unsuccessfully tried to shorten her sentence by seeking a pardon from President Donald Trump — whom she had once mocked on social media as a “soulless ginger orangutan.”

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and The Associated Press