NSA leaker sentenced to over five years in prison

NSA leaker sentenced to over five years in prison
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Reality Winner, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who pleaded guilty to leaking classified information to a news outlet in June, has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison. 

Winner, 26, was sentenced to 63 months in prison in federal court in Georgia on Thursday. Winner was arrested in June 2017 after leaking a classified NSA document to The Intercept that described Russian government efforts to breach state voting systems ahead of the 2016 elections. The Intercept reported on the document that month, and Winner’s arrest was made public shortly thereafter.

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Winner, a former linguist for the Air Force, had been working as a contractor at a government facility in Georgia since February 2017 where she had a top security clearance, affording her access to highly classified material.

Winner was charged with one count of violating the Espionage Act and is the first individual to be prosecuted under the law during the Trump administration. This past June, Winner pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, which called for the sentence of 63 months — five years and three months — in prison.

According to court documents, Winner’s prison time will be followed by three years supervised release. Winner’s sentence is the longest ever imposed over unauthorized leaks to the media. 

Federal officials said that they hoped Winner’s sentence would serve as a deterrent against other potentially damaging national security leaks in the future.

“Today, she has been held accountable for her crime thanks to the hard work of the Department’s prosecutors and agents,” John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement. “I hope their success will deter others from similar unlawful action in the future.” 

“Revealing sources and methods to the advantage of our adversaries and to the detriment of our country will never be acceptable and the FBI and Department of Justice will spare no effort to prosecute and punish anyone who would do so,” said J.C. Hacker, the acting special agent in charge at the FBI’s field office in Atlanta.