US Whistleblower Reality Winner Has Been Released

USA, Whistleblowers -

US Whistleblower Reality Winner Has Been Released

Reality Winner, a former NSA contractor turned whistleblower, who was jailed for leaking information to the public about Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 US elections, has been released early from prison.

Winner was sentenced to more than five years in prison in 2018 after she leaked the classified information on the Russian government's efforts to penetrate a Florida-based voting software supplier. She initially leaked the information to the news outlet 'The Intercept' that in turn "accidentally" outed her which led to her arrest. Winner pleaded guilty to leaking a classified report and at the time the sentence was the longest ever for a federal crime involving leaks to the media.

Attorneys for Winner filed a formal petition for commutation with the Justice Department in February 2020, arguing that Winner had "suffered enough" and called on the then President Donald Trump, who benefited from Russian electoral interference, to "do the right thing." While Trump tweeted in 2018 that her punishment was so unfair, he did not commute Winner's sentence. Advocates also called on Joe Biden to pardon or commute her but these pleas were widely ignored by the Biden administration. He did not commute her sentence either.

 Instead, Reality Winner will be released thanks to her own actions and perseverance to be an outstanding member of her community, even if that community was a prison. She was released for good behavior and is still in custody amid the “residential reentry process,” according to her attorney. “We are relieved and hopeful, ... Her release is not a product of the pardon or compassionate release process, but rather time earned from exemplary behavior while incarcerated.”

Winner’s attorney Alison Grinter tweeted the news, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website now lists Winner as in the custody of San Antonio’s Residential Reentry Management field office. "I am thrilled to announce that Reality Winner has been released from prison," her lawyer tweeted. Winner is still barred from public statements or appearances, and her release date is still listed as November 23rd, 2021. Reality Winner's lawyer also told reporters that Winner would continue to seek a pardon. 

"The fight continues and I’ll still be taking meetings in Washington to press forward the case for commutation and pardon, but the family will be stepping back to concentrate on Reality and her health and healing. She became an aunt while she was behind bars, and she is going to spend as much time as she can bonding and tickling little feet as she adjusts to life in the world.”

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