NSA leak suspect asks judge to throw out her statements to the FBI

10:15 a.m. Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 Local
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Before going to work for federal contractor Pluribus International Corp. at Fort Gordon, Augusta, Reality Leigh Winner, 25, spent six years in the Air Force, earning a commendation medal for her work as a linguist.

Reality Winner, the suspect in the National Security Agency leak investigation, is asking a judge to throw out the initial statements she made to FBI agents when she was arrested her at her Augusta home, arguing they didn’t advise her of her Miranda rights. 

In a court documents filed this week, Winner said 10 armed FBI agents showed up at her home on June 3. Citing a search warrant, eight of them rummaged through her house, while two agents directed her to a back room in the house where they interrogated her. 

The interview – which lasted 25 minutes – began with small talk before moving to questions about a “report” that she had allegedly mishandled classified information. They asked her about the location of the document and whether its disclosure compromised the government’s sources and methods of compiling it. 

“I specifically told law enforcement that ‘whatever we were using had already been compromised, and that this report was just going to be like one drop in the bucket,’” she wrote in her court filing. 

Winner said she was never advised she had the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. 

The government has accused the former government contractor of leaking to The Intercept online news outlet a top-secret NSA report about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. A federal grand jury has indicted her on a single count of "willful retention and transmission of national defense information.” She has pleaded not guilty. 

Winner is asking for a court hearing on her request to suppress the statements she made to the FBI as well as any evidence authorities obtained as a result of them. A FBI spokesman decline to comment. A spokesman for the federal prosecutors handling the case did not respond to a request for comment. 

In a June 5 news release about the investigation, the U.S. Justice Department said Winner agreed to talk to the FBI agents at her home and admitted to “removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess.” 

Also this week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps pushed Winner’s trial date back from Oct. 23 to March 19. Winner’s attorneys have asked for more time to gather evidence and obtain security clearances that will allow them to inspect classified information in the case.

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