Reality Winner, the whistleblower jailed in 2018 for leaking classified NSA documents to the press, has been released from prison, her attorney confirmed to Gizmodo on Monday.
“I am thrilled to announce that Reality Winner has been released from prison,” said civil rights lawyer Alison Grinter, in a statement circulated on social media. “She is still in custody in the residential reentry process, but we are relieved and hopeful.”
Grinter said via phone that Winner’s sentence was technically supposed to end in November of this year and that her early release was the result of good behaviour and the start of a normal reintegration process.
A U.S. Air Force veteran and former NSA contractor, Winner was arrested in 2017 for sharing classified information about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Winner mailed a classified report to The Intercept that appeared to show Russian attempts to hack dozens of local election offices throughout the country. The outlet subsequently published the material. At the time, the integrity of the 2016 election was a highly politicized issue — with ongoing sparring between President Trump and the U.S. intelligence community over the severity of Russian interference efforts.
In 2018, Winner pleaded guilty to one felony count of unauthorised transmission of national defence information and was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison — a record sentence for that type of crime. She served her time at a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.
Grinter said Monday that there was an ongoing effort to get a presidential pardon for Winner.
“We’re still absolutely pressing for commutation,” said the attorney. “She should have never spent any of this time in prison. Her suffering was basically to appease one man’s feelings about the legitimacy of his election,” she said, in reference to Trump.
Grinter said that all of the paperwork for a commutation of Winner’s sentence had been filed in January 2020. “You apply and very often never hear anything,” she said while adding that her office would continue to advocate for the pardon.
As to what Winner will be doing in the near future, Grinter couldn’t say. “Her family really wants privacy right now,” she said.