by Chuck Ross
Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner’s 63-month prison sentence will be the “longest” ever served by a federal employee in a case involving leaks to the media, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Winner, who worked for an NSA contractor based in Augusta, Georgia, pleaded guilty in June to transmitting secret government documents to the media in 2017. She faces sentencing August 23.
Prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday that Winner’s sentence is the “longest” imposed in a media leak case.
“The government advises the Court that despite the agreed-upon sentence being below the applicable guidelines range, it would be the longest sentence served by a federal defendant for an unauthorized disclosure to the media,” prosecutors said in the filing, according to The Associated Press.
Winner, 26, acknowledged stealing and leaking NSA documents to The Intercept, a news website, about Russian cyber attacks against election officials throughout the U.S.
Winner was arrested June 3, 2017. The Intercept published the stolen documents two days later. Winner was caught after a reporter at The Intercept contacted the NSA to verify the documents, which were visibly creased because Winner snuck them out of her office in her pantyhose.
Winner, whose social media footprint showed that she opposed Trump and supported Bernie Sanders, initially lied to FBI agents during her first interview about the pilfered documents. Winner also told the agents that she felt triggered by Fox News being on at her workplace.
In their court filing, prosecutors noted other high-profile cases involving government leaks to the media.
Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison in 2015 for leaking information about a covert mission to derail Iran’s nuclear program. Another CIA officer, John Kirakou, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in 2013 after he leaked the identity of a covert officer to a journalist.
According to The AP, prosecutors acknowledged that they hoped to avoid trial in Winner’s case so as not to disclose intelligence gathered by the NSA.
– – –
Chuck Ross is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Chuck on Twitter.