Accused leaker asking for pre-trial release from jail
Savannah, Ga. — Attorneys for a woman accused of leaking a classified U.S. report want a judge to free her from jail pending trial, arguing prosecutors have added no new charges months after they warned the woman may have stolen additional secrets.
Reality Winner, a former Air Force linguist with a top secret security clearance, worked as a government contractor in Augusta until June, when she was charged with copying a classified report and mailing it to an online news organization.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps has scheduled a hearing Friday to reconsider releasing 25-year-old Winner on bond. He ordered her jailed in June after prosecutors said Winner may have taken more than a single classified report. They said Winner had inserted a portable hard drive into a top-secret Air Force computer before she left the military last year.
Winner’s defense lawyers argued in a court filing Saturday that prosecutors have not accused Winner of any additional crimes more than three months later. They noted several other cases in which defendants accused of leaking multiple secret documents were freed on pre-trial bonds.
“Ms. Winner is accused of leaking a single document a single time to a single source,” Winner’s attorneys wrote. “… Detention should not be presumed. It is not the norm. It is not appropriate here.”
Prosecutors had not yet filed a response Monday afternoon.
Jennifer Solari, an assistant U.S. attorney, warned the judge in June that investigators had not found the portable hard drive Winner plugged into an Air Force computer and didn’t know what might be on it.
Winner’s lawyers included an email from Solari in their latest court filing in which the prosecutor noted she was mistaken when she previously told the judge that Winner was recorded in a jailhouse phone conversation saying, “Mom, those documents. I screwed up.”
Solari wrote the recording shows Winner actually told her mother: “I leaked a document.”
Defense attorneys wrote that if Winner is released, her mother in Kingsville, Texas, would move to Georgia to live with her and ensure that she complies with all bond conditions.
Authorities haven’t described the classified report Winner is accused of leaking or named the news outlet that received it. But the Justice Department announced Winner’s arrest on the same day The Intercept reported it had obtained a classified National Security Agency report suggesting Russian hackers attacked a U.S. voting software supplier before last year’s presidential election. The NSA report was dated May 5, the same as the document Winner is charged with leaking.