Accused NSA leaker reaches plea deal with investigators
Accused National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Reality Winner has reportedly reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors and will change her not guilty plea.
The Huffington Post reports that Winner is scheduled to appear at a Tuesday change of plea hearing, a sign that she and the Justice Department have reached an arrangement for her guilty plea.
Her mother, Billie Winner-Davis, told The Huffington Post that she could not comment on the specifics of the case but said that this chapter of Winner’s court battle was headed for “closure.”
“In a way, I was relieved to bring some closure to it,” Winner-Davis said. “This last year has been really tough on all of us, not knowing when exactly we’re going to get closure.”
Winner was arrested last year after allegedly mailing an NSA memo detailing a Russian cyberattack on U.S. voting systems to the news outlet The Intercept, which proved for the first time that Russians had gained access to “multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards.”
The memo did not specify whether Russian actors had been able to alter votes during the 2016 election.
Winner initially pleaded not guilty last year, and her family has objected to the Trump administration’s use of the Espionage Act to prosecute her, arguing that she is a whistleblower.
She is charged with one count of “willful retention and transmission of national defense information.” Prosecutors argued during a hearing last year that Winner planned to release more information, pointing to a section in a seized notebook reading “I want to burn the White House down.”
“People automatically hear ‘espionage’ and think she’s a traitor to her country, and I don’t want people thinking that she’s a traitor to the U.S.,” Winner-Davis told The Huffington Post. “I don’t agree with how the government uses the Espionage Act. She should not be labeled a traitor.”
Winner’s case is the first instance of the Trump administration charging a U.S. citizen with violating the Espionage Act. Her trial date has been postponed until Oct. 15.
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