Home / National News / Who is Reality Winner? Details about the woman accused of leaking top secret intelligence

 

(WASHINGTON) — Reality Leigh Winner, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, has been charged by the Department of Justice for leaking classified information on a 2016 Russian military intelligence cyberattack to The Intercept, an online news outlet.

Winner, who is 25 years old, was not a public figure prior to the news of her arrest. Here’s what we know about her so far.

A federal contractor who allegedly took a risk

Winner served as a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, according to officials, and had been working at an unidentified government facility in Georgia “since on or about Feb. 13,” according to an affidavit in support of application for her arrest warrant, written by Justin C. Garrick, a special agent with the FBI.

Pluribus International Corporation lists one employee location in Georgia on its website — Fort Gordon, a United States Army installation — but it’s unclear if that is indeed where Winner was based.

ABC News reached out to Pluribus International Corporation for a comment about Winner’s arrest but did not immediately receive a response.

She had top secret security clearance at her job, Garrick wrote in the affidavit.

On or about May 9, 2017, Winner allegedly printed and improperly removed the classified intelligence report, according to Garrick’s affidavit, which noted that the material had been dated on May 5.

The Intercept reached out to the government on May 30 for comment on the story it was planning to run, and on June 1, the FBI was notified about that interaction.

According to the affidavit, Winner confessed to Agent Garrick on June 3.

Winner was formally charged by the Justice Department with removing and mailing classified material to a news outlet on Monday. She has not yet entered a plea.

Her attorney told ABC News that Winner remains in federal custody, and will have a detention hearing on Thursday to determine if she will be released before her trial.

“A good person … caught in a political whirlwind”

Winner is a former Air Force linguist who speaks Pashto, Farsi and Dari, according to her attorney, and had recently worked as a yoga instructor at a studio called Oh Yeah Yoga in Augusta.

Oh Yeah Yoga owner Annalisa Adams described Winner to ABC News as a “reliable” employee.

“She taught first class at my studio in January,” Adams said. “She started doing sub stuff but eventually – she was so reliable – I gave her two classes.”

She added, “[Winner] was never anything but completely professional and we’re honestly all in complete shock that she took this step.”

“She’s a good person with no criminal history who is caught in a political whirlwind,” her attorney, Titus Thomas Nichols, told ABC News in a statement Monday night.

Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, called her a “very passionate” person who was outspoken about her beliefs.

“Very passionate about her views and things like that, but she’s never to my knowledge been active in politics or any of that,” Winner-Davis told The Daily Beast on Monday.

Gary Davis, Winner’s stepfather, described Winner to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday as a veteran and a patriot.

“She’s a veteran, six years’ service of the Air Force,” he said. “She received commendations during that time. She’s just a passionate young woman who probably made some mistakes.”

“You may not agree with her politics but she is a patriot,” Davis told the paper.

Winner’s social media presence shows her to be frequently critical of President Trump, and concerned about environmental issues.

Roughly four months ago, she wrote a Facebook post that was critical of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

“Repeat after me: In the United States of America, in the year 2017, access to clean, fresh, water is not a right, but a privilege based off one’s socio-economic status,” Winner wrote. “If that didn’t feel good to say aloud, contact your senators today and tell them those exact words as to why the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines cannot be built on American soil. Let’s fix the pipes meant to bring water, sans lead or pollutants, to our citizens before we build pipes meant to benefit big oil and poison the land. #NoDAPL”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Recent posts in National News