NSA whistleblower who leaked report on Russian election interference released from US prison

By Nick Duffy

A former US government contractor who was jailed for leaking a report about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has been released from prison.

FILE- In this June 26, 2018 file photo, Reality Winner walks into the Federal Courthouse in Augusta, Ga. Winner, 29, a former government contractor who was given the longest federal prison sentence imposed for leaks to the news media, has been released from prison to home confinement, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Monday. (Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP, File)

Reality Winner, 29, was sentenced to five years and three months behind bars in 2018 – the longest ever imposed for leaking government information to the news media.

On Monday, it emerged Winner has been released from prison to home confinement – though she officially remains in the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons.

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Her release was celebrated by advocates who have spent years fighting for her to be freed or pardoned.

Her lawyer, Alison Grinter Allen, said in a statement: “I am thrilled to announce that Reality Winner has been released from prison. She is still in custody in the residential re-entry process, but we are relieved and hopeful.

“Reality and her family have asked for privacy during the transition process as they work to heal the trauma of incarceration and build back the years lost.

“Her release is not a product of the pardon or compassionate release process, but rather the time earned from exemplary behaviour while incarcerated.”

Winner, a decorated former Air Force pilot, was due to be released on 23 November, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

The former Air Force translator worked as a contractor at a National Security Agency office in Augusta, Georgia, when she printed a classified report and left the building with it concealed in her underwear.

Winner told the FBI she sent the document to an online news outlet, which is believed to be The Intercept – which reported on the day of her arrest on a secret NSA document detailing Russian government efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The former NSA contractor is still seeking a pardon from President Joe Biden.

Her attorney told The Verge: “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.

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