Reality Winner, NSA contractor and Air Force veteran who pleaded guilty to mishandling government secrets, transferred to halfway house
WASHINGTON — Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor who pleaded guilty to mishandling government secrets about Russian election interference and who has long sought a pardon, has been transferred from federal prison to the custody of a halfway house to serve the rest of her sentence, her attorney said Monday.
Winner's transfer came on June 2 and was not part of any commutation or special treatment but a scheduled shift due to good behavior, said her attorney, Alison Grinter Allen.
While she finishes her sentence, she is likely to have the option of home confinement.
"She is in the custody of the halfway house, and the halfway house can use home confinement as part of it, but it's all at the discretion of the halfway house," her attorney said. "She has begun the reentry process."
Winner was arrested in 2017 after the FBI collected evidence that she gave a top-secret document about Russian hackers targeting U.S. election systems to the Intercept, a news outlet.
Her case marked the first criminal charges filed during the Trump administration against someone suspected of leaking government secrets to a journalist, and her family and open-government advocates have long argued she deserves a pardon or some other form of mercy.
The transfer to a halfway house comes as the Justice Department is again embroiled in controversy surrounding its pursuit of leak cases, amid new revelations that prosecutors subpoenaed phone records of journalists from The Washington Post, the New York Times, and CNN.
Attorney General Merrick Garland was scheduled to meet Monday with representatives of those outlets to discuss their concerns about government investigations that threaten First Amendment free-press protections.
Last week, Apple confirmed that it had provided some subscriber information about members of Congress to the Justice Department in what appeared to be a leak investigation.
In Winner's case, the Air Force veteran was charged after FBI agents questioned her at her house not long after the story about the intelligence document appeared.
A former military linguist, Winner held a top-secret security clearance and handled classified information as a contractor for Pluribus International, working at Fort Gordon in Georgia.
Prosecutors say she took a copy of a classified NSA report describing Russian government efforts to use hacking techniques against employees of a company that provided technical support to states' voting agencies.
Many leak investigations take months or years to reach a conclusion, but hers resulted in charges within a matter of days, largely because investigators were able to quickly trace the document back to her.