Reality Winner is the United States Air Force Veteran who reached the level of Senior Airman with the Intelligence Squadron and was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for facilitating the capture of 650 enemy soldiers, 600 enemies killed and identifying 900 high-value targets. After two years of language and intelligence, training Reality was fluent in Pashto, Dari, and Persian and was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland. Shortly after her Honorable Discharge from the Air Force since she still maintained her Top Secret clearance and was very talented, she secured a job at Pluribus International Corporation which is a government contractor headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.
On February 13th, 2017 Reality Winner was assigned by Pluribus International to work at Fort Gordon which is a U.S. Army post near Augusta, Georgia. Her job was to translate Farsi in documents relating to Iran’s aerospace program, Reality knew the base well because she was previously stationed there while in the Air Force. It was here at Fort Gordon where Reality Winner decided she would put her country above herself and take a grave risk knowing far too well the consequences of her actions, she consciously put herself on the altar of liberty for the sake of an informed public not only are her actions commendable they are to be defended by any means necessary.
The Reality Winner Files
Four months into her employment at Plurbis International on May 9th, 2017 Reality allegedly printed and removed the classified intelligence report from the facility at Fort Gordon, two days later Reality allegedly sent the classified intelligence report to The Intercept and twenty days later, on May 30th, 2017 the NSA received copies of a leaked intelligence report from The Intercept describing a vast Russian state-led effort to attack our election systems via phishing schemes, The Intercept has stated their intention was to verify the intelligence report before publishing their article. I am not an expert in this field, but I have researched a lot of cases involving whistle-blowers and it’s unclear to me why The Intercept would send copies of this leaked intelligence report back to the NSA. There are other ways of verifying a document without sending it back to the very Government it was leaked from.
Once the NSA received these documents from The Intercept they contacted the FBI and initiated an internal audit which quickly ascertained that Reality Winner was one of only six people who had access to the documents. these copies also helped the FBI in identifying how the documents were removed from the facility because the PDF The Intercept sent had telltale creases in the documents from them being folded, the FBI could also tell that the intelligence report was printed out. From this point on it was simple to find out who leaked the Top Secret intelligence report all the FBI had to do was find out which of the six people who had access to the intelligence report also had contacted The Intercept. This led to Reality Leigh Winner’s arrest on June 3rd, 2017 just four days after The Intercept had sent copies of the Top Secret documents to the NSA.
Two days later on the 5th of June, 2017 the Department of Justice made the announcement of Reality Winner’s arrest. Fast forward to current events and we have a Special Counsel investigating Russia for meddling in the 2016 election which recently led the indictment of 13 Russian nationals for doing exactly what Reality blew the whistle on, how can we punish an American citizen for exposing crimes against our democracy? Why was this intelligence report even classified Top Secret? Doesn’t the public have a right to know if one of the foundations of our democracy has a significant crack in it? By doing the most patriotic thing and releasing that intelligence report Reality Winner is then treated as an unpatriotic perpetrator of espionage and not the decorated United States Air Force Veteran that she is. People who feel as if whistle-blowers are traitors to their country are ignorant of their own constitutional consciousness.
On June 7th, 2017 Reality Winner was indicted by a grand jury on one count of Willful Retention and Transmission of National Defense Information, 18 U.S.C § 793(e), to which she plead ‘not guilty’ and is being held without bail at the Lincoln County Jail in Georgia. The one-count indictment alleges that:
“Beginning on or about May 9, 2017, and continuing until on or about a date unknown but no later than June 3, 2017, in Richmond County, in the Southern District of Georgia, and elsewhere, the defendant, Reality Leigh Winner, having unauthorized possession of, access to, and control over a document containing information relating to the national defense, willfully retained the document and failed to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it, and willfully transmitted the same to a person not entitled to receive it: to wit, Winner retained the intelligence reporting and transmitted it to the News Outlet.”
It’s sickening to me that the United States government can type some words on five pieces of paper and completely turn a families world upside down, that someone could go from an award-winning Air Force Veteran to a traitor to her country in just five pages is not only baffling, but it eludes common logic. In August of 2017, Reality Winner’s defense team filed a motion to suppress statements she made to FBI agents on June 3rd before she was arrested in her home because Reality was never read her Miranda rights nor at any point during her interrogation was Reality told she was allowed to leave.
On June 3rd, 2017 when eleven FBI agents swarmed Reality’s home boxing her car in and serving her with three search warrants for her car, home, and her person, Reality was supposed to assume according to the United States government that she was free to leave at any moment, even when the search warrant of her person led to the confiscation of her cell phone and car keys? Did the FBI agents expect Reality to just walk off without her car keys or cell phone and leave the agents milling about in her home? Reality was asked by FBI agents if she wanted to be interviewed at the station or here in her home to which Reality agreed to be interviewed in her home and she led agents to a spare room she herself deemed to be creepy to conduct the interview. At some point during the interrogation, Reality asked to use the bathroom and this is when the FBI should have been fully aware that Ms. Winner was not advised that she was “free to leave.” By Reality asking permission to move about her own home it is clear that she was not aware at any point during this interrogation that she was free to leave.
Judge Brian Epps allowed for the motion to be heard, the prosecution and the defense were both afforded the time to present their arguments for and against the motion on February 27th and 28th at the Federal Justice Center in Augusta, Georgia. It was at this hearing where Special Agent Justin Garrick testified that he never told Reality Winner that she was free to leave. At one point during the hearing, Judge Brian Epps asked Special Agent Justin Garrick if he ever received instructions on when to Mirandize someone in their home, Justin Garrick told the judge he never contemplated Mirandizing Ms. Winner.
Matthew Chester from the defense team argued to the court that the agents made a “tactical decision” not to apprehend Reality right away in an effort get her to talk to them. An internal DOJ email from the Counterintelligence Export Control Section sent the night before the raid of Reality’s home which approved of the agents arresting Ms. Winner only if she happened plea or admitted to disclosing classified information, which explains why the FBI agents didn’t want to put Reality in custody immediately upon serving her with warrants, the FBI wanted Reality to feel comfortable enough to talk. The prosecutions only argument to the court seemed to be that the FBI agents could have violated her rights in many other terrible ways, but they didn’t according to Jenifer Solari one of the prosecutors for the DOJ. As Kevin Gosztola wrote in his article on the Reality Winner case for Shadowproof.com, “It was almost as if the government wanted the judge to overlook the agents’ conduct because there were worse ways they could have violated her rights that did not occur.”
It’s incomprehensible as to why Reality Winner has not been granted bail and the argument for denying her bail never seems to change. Reality is considered a risk not because they think she is going to hang out with Julian in London or that she is a flight risk in any way, its because the DOJ claims Reality is a risk to give up national defense secrets to foreign adversaries. Which is perplexing in of itself because Reality had the means, motive, and opportunity to give our secrets to foreign adversaries and she never did. Throughout her entire career in the Air Force, she never once compromised national security. It is a grotesque violation of Reality’s right to due process and her right to a fair trial to argue that she is a risk and deny her bail repeatedly because of the actions another nation-state “might” try to do simply doesn’t follow the letter of the law as it is written, the DOJ can’t just claim someone is a risked to the community without proving in a court of law how and why someone is a risk to their communities.
The United States government doesn’t want Reality to post bail, they don’t want to see her giving interviews on national television, they want her communications monitored and limited, they want to know who she is talking to and exactly what she is saying all of this would be very hard if Reality did post bail. The government wants to silence Reality and they are going to great lengths to achieve this. Any communication Reality has with the outside world is monitored except for conversations with her attorney’s. That is why we need to be Reality’s voice, we need to scream from the rooftops about the injustices in this case and implore the masses to stand with Reality Winner until she is free. Judge Brian Epps should render his decision on whether or not Reality’s Miranda rights were violated in about thirty days. Family, friends, and supporters are rallying behind Reality in a big way with over 22 million impressions gained from a #FreeRealityWinner/Justice4Reality tweetstorm that was going on as Reality’s court hearing was being held in Augusta, Georgia. Together united as one we will continue to push forward and demand that justice is had for Reality Winner until then, we must be Reality’s voice.
Please visit standwithreality.org to find out how you can help Reality.
By Joziah Thayer
We the People
Exuding free speech
Deserve nothing less than