Who is Reality Leigh Winner? Mom of NSA contractor who leaked Russian interference report asks Joe Biden for pardon

Reality Leigh Winner, who is serving five years and three months for leaking a classified NSA report about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, was denied a compassionate release amid the pandemic


                            Who is Reality Leigh Winner? Mom of NSA contractor who leaked Russian interference report asks Joe Biden for pardon
Reality Leigh Winner was charged with removing classified material from a government facility and illegally transmitting it to an online news outlet (Twitter/Billie J Winner-Davis)

The mother of Reality Leigh Winner, who is serving five years and three months for leaking a classified government report about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, has pleaded with President Joe Biden for her daughter's freedom after being denied a compassionate release amid the pandemic. Taking to Twitter, Billie J. Winner-Davis wrote, “Do whatever you can today bring attention to my daughter Reality Leigh Winner. This patriot deserves her freedom now. @POTUS needs to hear from us, needs to know how many people support her release. #FreeRealityWinner #BringRealityHome.”

She also posted a photo of Reality in uniform that includes a message, which read: “Reality Leigh Winner sits in a COVID-infested prison denied compassionate release. PLEASE RIGHT THIS WRONG.” The text also had a link to a site called www.StandWithReality.org, which is dedicated to Reality and her case.

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Who is Reality Leigh Winner?

Reality was working for National Security Agency contractor Pluribus International Corporation when she was arrested at her home in Augusta, Georgia, in June 2017 by the FBI. At the time, she was charged with removing classified material from a government facility and illegally transmitting it to an online news outlet. The name of the media company was not released by the Justice Department, but Reality’s arrest came soon after The Intercept published a report on June 6, 2017.



 

The title of the report read, “TOP-SECRET NSA REPORT DETAILS RUSSIAN HACKING EFFORT DAYS BEFORE 2016 ELECTION”, and included details like, “RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election,” and “The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure.”

In August 2018, Reality was given five years and three months behind bars for the crime. After the verdict, she told Chief U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall in a federal court in Augusta, “I sincerely apologize and take full responsibility for my actions. In particular, I want to apologize to my family.” As per reports, Reality could have been sentenced to ten years, but since she cut a plea deal with prosecutors, the time was cut down.

However, there is more about Reality than the NSA leak. Reports stated that after being raised in Kingsville, Texas, she served in the United States Air Force for six years as a senior airman. “She served her country; she is a veteran. She's a patriot, and to see her maligned and slandered in the media is very disheartening,” her stepfather, Gary Davis, told CNN in June 2017. Reality is also a fierce player on the soccer field and tennis court. “I remember she had a lot of court tantrums when she was losing,” Juan Carlos Gonzalez, who was on the H.M. King High School tennis team with her, told AJC.

Reality Leigh Winner (Lincoln County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office)

Reality’s relationship with her father, Ronald Winner, was strained, as per her mother. She was, however, very close to her stepfather for whom she once posted on her Facebook: “Just a reminder on Father’s Day how awesome it is having a dad like Gary Davis!” In addition, she is a vegan who loves animals and plays the guitar. Reality’s favorite shows are 'Pokemon' and 'Hannah Montana'.

'An Actual Patriot Hero'

A comment on Twitter read, “She is an Actual Patriot Hero.. release #RealityWinner.” Another tweet stated, “You know who is not enjoying spring? Reality Winner. We need more people to get on board with this. Please retweet. Call. Sign the petition. It only takes a few minutes.”



 



 

A user on the social media platform wrote, “-Why haven’t those who lied during the Russian Investigation been charged? -Why hasn’t Unredacted Mueller Report been released? -Why haven’t Bannon and Stone and Others been arrested and jailed? -Why is Erik Prince still free? -Why is Reality Winner still in Prison? #WHYWHYWHY.” “She is a hero for being a whistleblower during the Trump era. She should be pardoned and released immediately. President Biden and Vice president Kamala Harris please make it so,” a second user said.



 



 

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