First Whistleblower Indicted By Trump Administration Sentenced To Five Years In Prison

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Alisdare Hickson / Flickr Fascism is so 1930s...
Alisdare Hickson / Flickr

There seems to be a lot of confusion about who’s a hero and who’s a traitor these days. Former NSA contractor Reality Winner was sentenced to 63 months prison on one felony count under the Espionage Act for leaking a report to The Intercept on election interference by Russian operatives in the 2016 election. ThreatPost:

Winner, 26, entered her plea in Federal District Court in Augusta, Ga., and was convicted of one felony count under the Espionage Act.

“All of my actions I did willfully, meaning I did so of my own free will,” Winner told Chief Judge J. Randal Hall on Tuesday.

According to reports, Winner was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 2016, and was working as a contractor for the NSA at the time of the leak. According to the New York Times, she was arrested last June after an investigation identified her as the only one out of six people with access to the report who used a work computer to email the Intercept. A search-warrant application also showed that she located the report using keywords that fell outside her normal work duties; and, the report printout contained a microdot watermark that showed the serial number of the printer used, which she had access to.

NPR reported on her case last summer:

“Winner is the first person accused of leaking classified information to be charged with a crime under the Trump administration. The 25-year-old National Security Agency contractor, who is also an Air Force veteran, is accused of orchestrating the latest bombshell leak from the NSA.

“Winner, who was working in the Georgia office of contractor Pluribus International, allegedly printed out a top-secret document [in May 2017] and mailed it to an online news outlet, which was not named in court documents.

“However, The Intercept broke a story Monday [June 5] with details on Russian attempts to penetrate U.S. election systems.

“At roughly the same time, the Justice Department announced that it has charged Winner with mishandling classified information on national defense.”

So much for what Edward Snowden characterized as “democracy’s safeguard of last resort.”

Edward Snowden took his case to the media Wednesday arguing a presidential pardon would be an important step in preserving democracy and his only hope in returning to the United States. He argued that under the current Espionage Act, future whistleblowers would be less inclined to come forward to expose government abuses of power.

“Today whistleblowing is democracy’s safeguard of last resort. The one upon which we all rely when all other checks and balances have failed and when the public has no idea of what is going on behind closed doors,” Snowden told a group of reporters in New York via a video feed from Russia.

 

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