Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner said this week that she believes she was acting in "service to the American people" when she leaked classified documents to the media in 2017.
Winner, who pleaded guilty to leaking classified information about Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 elections and was sentenced to 63 months in prison, made her comments during her first television interview since she was released earlier this year.
She told Scott Pelley in a "60 Minutes" interview that her actions were "out of love for what this country stands for," CBS News reported.
"You knew it was stamped 'Top Secret.' You knew what that meant," Pelley said to Winner in a clip from the interview that aired on "CBS Mornings" on Friday.
"I knew that. I knew it was secret," Winner told him. "But I also knew that I had pledged service to the American people. And at that point in time, it felt like they were being led astray."
At the time that Winner was being charged by the Justice Department for espionage, another agency within the federal government was reportedly using the leaked information to notify states about potential hacking threats, CBS News noted.
Winner's mother, Billie Winner-Davis, was also interviewed in the segment and expressed her support of her daughter's actions.
"She actually stood up and worked for the American people to give us the truth about an attack on our vote, an attack on our democracy, an attack on our country."