Actuality Winner, who disclosed Russian info to The Intercept, launched from jail

Reality winner leaves the Augusta Courthouse on June 8, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. The winner is an intelligence industry contractor accused of leaking National Security Agency (NSA) documents.

Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Reality Winner, a former Air Force linguist who pleaded guilty in 2018 to leaked an intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, has been released from prison, her lawyer said Monday.

“I’m very excited to announce that Reality Winner has been released from prison,” Alison Grinter Allen wrote in a post on Twitter. “She is still on remand during the re-entry process, but we are relieved and hopeful.”

According to a website from the Bureau of Prisons, Winner is currently in a re-entry facility in San Antonio. Your discharge date from the facility is November 23, 2021.

Winner, now 29, was 25 when she printed out a classified intelligence report at the Georgia National Security Agency facility where she worked and made it available to journalists for investigative news agency The Intercept.

A story based on Winners Leak was published on June 5, 2017 with the headline: “TOP SECRET NSA REPORT DETAILS RUSSIAN HACKING EFFORT DAYS BEFORE 2016 ELECTION.”

“Just days before the presidential election last November, Russian military intelligence launched a cyberattack on at least one US election software provider and sent spear phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials, according to a top-secret intelligence report by The Intercept.” said the article, written by journalists Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Sam Biddle and Ryan Grim.

Winner was sentenced to five years and three months in August 2018. According to Allen, Winner’s early release was not the product of “a pardon or compassionate release process, but rather the time earned through exemplary behavior during incarceration.”

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Allen added that Winner was still prevented from making public statements or appearances. Winner and her family, Allen said, “have sought privacy during the transition process as they work to heal the trauma of incarceration and rebuild the lost years.”

Winner’s case was an early example of the tough approach that President Donald Trump’s administration took against the defendants of divulging confidential government information. Prosecutors at the time said Winner’s sentence would be the longest serving a federal defendant for media leakage.

The case also reflected poorly on the source protection methods used by The Intercept. In 2017, Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed issued a statement acknowledging that “at several points in the editorial process, our practices have fallen short of the standards we adhere to to minimize the risks of source exposure when handling anonymously provided materials.”

Winner was arrested on June 3, 2017, two days before The Intercept published his article based on the document she provided. Investigators said they tracked down Winner after discovering that whoever leaked the secret document had printed it out. Sieger was one of only half a dozen people who had printed the document, and she had also used her work computer to email someone at The Intercept.

The winner’s release comes as the Biden administration is under pressure from aggressive maneuvers by the Justice Department under Trump to uncover the source of the leaked material. On Friday, the Inspector General of the Justice Department said he would investigate the previous seizure of electronic records from journalists in major news outlets and Democratic members of Congress as part of a leak investigation.

It was reported Monday that John Demers, a senior Justice Department official overseeing these leak investigations, will be leaving in two weeks. A Justice Department spokesman said Demers’ departure was planned prior to the latest scandal.

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