‘The fight absolutely continues’: Reality Winner out of prison on supervised release as family seeks Biden pardon

NSA whistleblower housed in residential re-entry centre as she completes five-year sentence

Alex Woodward
New York
Monday 14 June 2021 18:49 BST
Reality Winner exits the Augusta Courthouse June 8, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia
Reality Winner exits the Augusta Courthouse June 8, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia (Getty Images)
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Former intelligence specialist Reality Winner has been released from federal prison into supervised custody as she completes a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to leaking top-secret materials about Russian hacking attempts against US elections systems, according to her attorney.

Her attorney Alison Grinter Allen confirmed her release to The Independent.

She remains in custody and is in a residential reentry process, her attorney said in a statement. She is being housed with a Residential Reentry Management centre in Texas, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

“Her release is not a product of the pardon or compassionate release process, but rather the time earned from exemplary behavior while incarcerated,” Ms Allen said in a statement.

Winner’s family has pressed for a full pardon from President Joe Biden, arguing that “Reality has served a lot of time and gone through quite a bit of trauma to fight for essentially one man’s feelings about his election’s validity,” Ms Allen told The Independent.

“It’s the only way to make this right,” she said.

Winner’s sentence is expected to end in November, following a five-year sentence under the first conviction under the Espionage Act following Donald Trump’s presidency in 2017. Justice Department prosecutors said her sentence was the longest imposed for unauthorised release of government data to the media, after she mailed a copy of a document to investigative news outlet The Intercept in 2016.

The former Air Force linguist was working for National Security Agency contractor Pluribus International Corp when she reportedly printed out a report from her work computer that detailed Russian intelligence attempts to compromise elections officials and voter registration databases.

FBI agents arrested her two days before The Intercept published its report. The outlet has since acknowledged it mishandled how it sought to verify the document, essentially exposing Winner to the NSA as the source of the leak.

The Justice Department argued that “the intelligence report revealed the sources and methods used to acquire the information contained in the report, which, if disclosed, would be harmful to the United States and valuable to our adversaries.”

Winner pleaded guilty in 2018 to one felony count of unauthorised transmission of national defence information.

In 2020, she lost an appeal for compassionate release while imprisoned during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Her mother Billie J Winner-Davis has pleaded to the Biden administration to grant her clemency.

“All it’s going to take is his signature to commute her sentence and bring her home to us,” she told MSNBC this month.

“The Trump administration persecuted Reality so strongly because of the information she released, and the continued silence from this administration is a continued persecution,” she said.

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