News 12 Exclusive | Reality Winner through her mother's eyes

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Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018
(News 12 at 6 O’Clock / NBC 26 News at 7)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner was in court Tuesday, along with supporters and her family.

“I don’t know about confident, but I feel like we did a good job.”

Winner’s parents left the federal courthouse feeling hopeful. Her supporters wore orange carnations in support, to match her jumpsuit. The hearing came down to whether Winner was in custody when she made statements to agents last June.

Anyone in custody is supposed to have their Miranda Rights read to them. Her rights were not read to her, but agents say she was not in custody.

Winner’s lawyers say agents made her believe she was in custody by taking her cell phone, car keys, blocking her car, and following her around her property. The story has gained international attention with some people calling Winner a hero, others calling her a traitor.

I sat down with the person who knows her perhaps the best, her mother. We met at the home where the very interrogation took place.

Winner’s Mom: “This is the interrogation room, that’s what I call it.”
Liz Owens: “The interrogation room?” (Winner’s mom laughs)

Billie Winner-Davis laughs now because too many of her days are full of tears.

Liz: “What’s this like as a mom?”
Winner-Davis: (crying) “It’s frightening, I’m really scared.”

Nine months ago, her world changed. FBI agents came to her daughter Reality’s home, arresting her for leaking top secret documents.

“She was scared, she was scared about what was happening.”

A few months later, Winner-Davis retired from her job to make the move from Texas to Augusta.

Winner-Davis: “It’s through the glass over the phone, I haven’t had any physical contact since this started.”
Liz: “How hard is that?”
Winner-Davis: “It’s hard, it’s very hard….Yeah I just want to hug her, touch her, she’s my baby.”

Never did she think her baby would be behind bars. Never did she think she would be living in her daughter’s apartment while she waits to go to trial.

"They paint her as a person who hates her country, a person who wants to do her country harm, that is not true, that is not who Reality is.”

The real Reality, she says, is a young woman who loves her country, loves people and loves animals. An introvert with a quirky sense of humor. Compassionate and passionate. An athlete and…

“These are sketches she sent me from jail.”

An artist.

“This hasn’t changed her, this is who she is.”

The government paints a much different picture of Reality Winner. The U.S. Attorney’s Office describes Winner as a Taliban sympathizer, someone who hates America, and wants to move to the Middle East.

“Oh it is very difficult, it’s very difficult to see her shackled, to see her treated like a criminal.”

Winner-Davis visits her daughter twice every Saturday and Sunday.

“She has maintained her good sense of humor, corky sense of humor….She keeps focused, she exercises every day; she does her yoga, she meditates, she does CrossFit.”

She also sends her mom handmade cards. She reads one of them…

“You are my rock when I should be your support, you pick me up time and time again…”

Winner-Davis’ weekly visits with her daughter, however, are about to end.

“That was the one thing she made me agree to if we lost the appeal, and she isn’t about to get out. She asked for me to go back home.”

Winner-Davis moves back to Texas at the end of the week.

“I feel like I am abandoning her here.”

Reality Winner’s future is now up to a federal judge to decide whether he will allow statements made by the woman accused of leaking top secret material into evidence.