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Former National Security Agency contractor released from prison, but not fully free yet

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 11:36 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking top-secret information on an almost free woman. Reality Winner left prison Monday after more than three years into five-year sentence, but she’s not exactly free yet.

We have been following the story and caught up with Reality Winner’s attorney.

Prosecutors say at the time Winner’s sentence was the longest ever imposed for leaking government information. In 2018 she pled guilty to violating the Espionage Act and was sentenced to five years in prison. But now after three years, she’s almost free and Winner’s attorney tells me she’s ready to move forward.

Prison during a pandemic means even fewer allowances.

“I don’t think that there has even been a good time to be in an American prison, but this has been some of the worst time,” said Alison Grinter Allen, attorney for Reality Winner.

Alison Grinter Allen says her client contracted COVID in prison, requested compassionate release, and was denied.

“There’s a lot of trauma that comes with incarceration. I mean her first instinct was let’s get out of here before they change their mind,” she said.

She’s out, but not free yet. Grinter Allen says Winner is now in a federal halfway house in South Texas where she’ll be until she’s released in November. But, she will now get more outdoor and family time.

“And that’s really important, especially because after the COVID lockdown there hasn’t been family visitation for so long,” she said.

Grinter Allen says she hasn’t asked Winner about her plans once she’s fully released, but she thinks Winner could use her experiences to advocate against the Espionage Act and mass incarcerations.

“I would be surprised if reality did not take this as a direction that she can move to help the people around her, because that’s really how she heals, by helping the people near her,” she said.

So after she’s out of the halfway house in November she still has three years of supervised release.

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