Accused NSA leaker’s supporters call on feds to drop charges against her


Reality Winner’s supporters said they delivered petitions with more than 16,000 signatures to the U.S. Justice Department’s headquarters in Washington Thursday, asking the agency to drop its charges against the accused National Security Agency leaker. 

Among those delivering the petitions on “Whistleblower Appreciation Day” were representatives from several groups, including CodePink, Defending Rights & Dissent, RootsAction.org, Whistleblower and Source Protection Program and Stand with Reality, a nonprofit campaign that is supporting Winner’s case through advocacy and fundraising. 

"We should not be charging whistleblowers acting in the public interest, disclosing information responsibly to journalists, as if they were traitors to our country. Anyone who cares about a free press should be concerned about her case,” Rainey Reitman, co-founder of Stand with Reality, said in a prepared statement. 

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Federal prosecutors have accused Winner of leaking to The Intercept online news outlet a top-secret NSA report about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Intercept published the report, which says Russian military intelligence officials tried to hack into the U.S. voting system just before last November’s election. 

A federal grand jury has indicted Winner, 25, on a single count of "willful retention and transmission of national defense information.” She faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Winner, who is being held in the Lincoln County Jail, has pleaded not guilty to the charge. 

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are defending their proposed rules for safeguarding top-secret information during her trial, now set for Oct. 23 in Augusta. Winner’s defense attorneys have argued those rules could block her from getting a fair hearing. Specifically, they have said the government’s proposed protective order could prevent Winner from reviewing evidence in the case, including classified information. That, they said, would amount to a violation of the former Air Force linguist’s Sixth Amendment right to confer with her attorneys. 

RELATED: Accused NSA leaker’s attorneys push back against proposed secrecy rules for trial

But in a court papers filed this week, the prosecutors said she will be given access to the records she is entitled to see under the Classified Information Procedures Act and as required by due process. But her attorneys must ask the court for her to see such documents, the prosecutors said. 

“The scope of classified discovery in this case has not yet been determined. It may include, for example, classified information to which the defendant has not previously had access,” the government said in its court filing. “Given the charge against the defendant, disclosing that information to her could further jeopardize national security. If defense counsel believe that they must disclose specific information provided in discovery to the defendant, that should be the subject of a subsequent motion.” 

Winner’s attorneys are also seeking permission to quote from records already in the public domain, including newspaper articles. Prosecutors have pointed to case law that says disseminating classified information that has already been made public could harm government intelligence sources and operations. Further, Winner’s defense team is objecting to proposed requirements that they identify expert witnesses they ask to review classified evidence, saying that would amount to an unfair advantage for prosecutors. 

“The government has a legitimate interest in knowing who is accessing classified information,” the prosecutors said. “The defense has not identified any prejudice that would result from disclosing experts’ identities to the government. Accordingly, the government should receive advance notice of all personnel for whom the defense seeks access to classified discovery and an opportunity to submit objections to the court if necessary.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

DNR: 4 or 5 bears may be roaming Gwinnett; sightings continue
DNR: 4 or 5 bears may be roaming Gwinnett; sightings continue

There could be four or five black bears roaming around northern Gwinnett County, Don McGowan, a spokesman with the state wildlife agency, told Channel 2 Action News.  A bear was seen in a park in Dacula multiple times over recent weeks, following sightings in Suwanee and Sugar Hill. One sighting on the Suwanee Greenway prompted Suwanee Elementary...
Abducted baby abandoned under overpass, saved by homeless man: reports
Abducted baby abandoned under overpass, saved by homeless man: reports

A homeless man’s call to police on Monday morning ended an hours-long search for a Louisiana infant who was kidnapped and then abandoned underneath a highway overpass, according to multiple reports. Authorities in Shreveport were called Monday morning by a homeless man who said that another man told him he had left a baby under a bridge in Minden...
Watch the ‘Hummingbird Whisperer’ do her thing for science in Cobb
Watch the ‘Hummingbird Whisperer’ do her thing for science in Cobb

Here are some interesting hummingbird facts: Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards, they weigh less than a nickel on average, they have no sense of smell and you can see the “Hummingbird Whiserper” on Sept. 9 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. That’s when Kennesaw’s Smith-Gilbert Gardens will have hummingbird...
At $700M, Powerball jackpot now second-largest ever
At $700M, Powerball jackpot now second-largest ever

Powerball jackpots of triple-figure millions are nothing new. But the top prize for Wednesday’s drawing is getting closer to the biggest ever. After rolling over 20 times since June 14, the jackpot is at an estimated $700 million, according to Georgia Lottery officials. Only one other Powerball jackpot was larger: the $1.5 billion payoff for...
Cobb cops: Woman ate Buffalo Wild Wings as dog sat in 113-degree car 
Cobb cops: Woman ate Buffalo Wild Wings as dog sat in 113-degree car 

A Virginia woman was arrested for allegedly leaving her 5-year-old Yorkshire Terrier in a hot car while inside the Buffalo Wild Wings at Cumberland Mall last week. Dominique Nicole Brown, 24, was booked into Cobb County jail on a charge of animal cruelty Thursday evening, jail records show. She bonded out for $1,320 about eight hours later. Brown...
More Stories