Local document leaker Reality Winner tells her side on ‘60 Minutes’

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 7:52 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2021 at 7:53 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Reality Winner - it’s the name that turned heads when the Air Force vet made headlines in 2017 for alleged espionage against the United States.

She was sentenced to over five years in prison for leaking documents from the National Security Agency.

At the time, Winner’s sentence was the longest ever given to a civilian accused of leaking classified documents to the media.

She was released back in June 2018 and just started her supervised release last month, which is less restrictive, but still, she’s not able to leave the federal judicial district or stay out past 10 p.m.

Now in an interview with CBS 60 Minutes, Winner is telling her side of the story of what happened.

We learned a lot bout Reality Winner - even that her name was given to her by her father who said he wanted his child to be “a real winner.”

She was living in Augusta in 2017, working as a contractor at a National Security Agency office, 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.

It was during a search of her home that federal agents found the evidence that led to her arrest.

But under her plea agreement, she still isn’t allowed to talk about the document she allegedly leaked or any information of top-secret work she did in the past.

In the interview, Winner said she felt the American people were being misled about her and she argued she “only acted out of love for what the country stood for.”

“I’ve had four years of just trying to say I’m not a terrorist. I can’t even begin to talk about my actual espionage indictment. Or have a sense of accomplishment in having survived prison. Because I’m still stained by them accusing me of being the same groups that I enlisted in the air force to fight against,” she said. “So I don’t let myself feel anything regarding the actual act or the charge. Until I can let it be known that I’m not what they said I was.”

“Was it worth it?” CBS 60 Minutes interviewer Scott Pelley asked.

“I try so hard not to frame things as being worth it or not worth it. What I know is that I’m home with my parents. And we take our lives every day moving forward as being richer in knowing what to be grateful for,” Winner said.

During her stint in the Air Force, Winner was awarded a commendation medal for “600 enemies killed in action,” as a linguist in a combat unit fighting secret missions.

Right now her duty station is at Fort Meade in Maryland. When the interviewer asked why she was there, her lawyer who was present advised her certain details should stay confidential for now.

You can watch the full interview with Reality Winner below.

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