NSA leaker Reality Winner has been sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison, the New York Times reported. The 26-year-old former intelligence contractor pleaded in June to leaking a top-secret government report to members of the media.
This sentence was the longest that has ever been handed down for unauthorized release of government information to journalists in the history of the United States, the paper noted.
What are the details?
Reality Winner pleaded guilty to printing out a classified report at the National Security Agency's Augusta, Georgia, office, then tucking it into her pantyhose to smuggle it out of the building. She would mail this document to The Intercept.
That report detailed evidence of Russian cyberattacks during late 2016. United States Attorney Bobby L. Christine told reporters that he believed Winner had “caused exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security.”
Winner's lawyers, on the other hand, pointed to her time in the Air Force.
“She is someone who has done something she should not have done — and knows she should not have done,” John Bell, one of her lawyers, said during the trial. “But she’s not an evil person.”
Winner, who spent a year in jail before reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, told the court that she “had no intention to harm national security.”
How was Winner found?
When The Intercept contacted the NSA for comment, the agency conducted an internal audit to determine the source of the leak. That audit found that only six people had access to the document. Of these six, Winner was the only one who had emailed The Intercept from a computer on-site.
“Yeah, I screwed up royally,” Winner said just before her arrest.
Prosecutors also accused Winner of being politically motivated.
In a Facebook chat, Winner told her sister, “Look, I only say I hate America like 3 times a day.”
She also called President Donald Trump an “orange facist” and a “soulless ginger orangutan,” followed NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Twitter and repeatedly used the hashtag #notmypresident for Trump.