Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner to accept a plea deal
ATLANTA — A woman charged with leaking U.S. secrets to a news outlet plans to plead guilty, a federal official confirmed Thursday.
Online court records show a change of plea hearing is scheduled Tuesday for former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner. U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Ian Prior confirmed by email that Winner plans to plead guilty.
The docket shows a plea agreement was filed Thursday, but it isn’t publicly accessible.
Winner previously pleaded not guilty and has been in custody since her arrest.
Defense attorneys didn’t immediately respond Thursday afternoon to an email seeking comment.
Winner is a former Air Force linguist who speaks Arabic and Farsi and had a top-secret security clearance. She worked for the national security contractor Pluribus International at Fort Gordon in Georgia when she was charged in June 2017 with copying a classified U.S. report and mailing it to an unidentified news organization.
Authorities have not publicly described the document Winner is charged with leaking, nor have they identified the news organization that received it. But the Justice Department announced Winner’s arrest on the same day online news outlet The Intercept reported it had obtained a classified National Security Agency report suggesting Russian hackers attacked a U.S. voting software supplier before last year’s presidential election.
The NSA report was dated May 5, the same as the document Winner is charged with leaking.
Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, told The Associated Press by phone Thursday that she understood her daughter planned to plead guilty, but didn’t have any other details.
Winner’s mother said she believes her daughter has been willing to accept responsibility for her actions. But she said she continues to believe the charge against her daughter is unfair.
“Regardless of what she did or didn’t do, I don’t think she’s a traitor to her country,” the mother said.
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