According to CNN, Reality Winner, a former government contractor and Air Force linguist, who leaked confidential information about Russian hacking in the 2016 U.S. election, has been sentenced to over five years in prison.
In June, the 26-year-old Georgia native pleaded guilty to copying and leaking a classified report from the NSA to the media, which detailed a Russian cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier.
While Winner was initially facing up to 10 years in prison, she accepted a plea deal on Thursday, which reduced her sentence to five years and three months with an additional three years of supervised release.
Ever since her initial arrest in June 2017, Winner has been held in prison without bail and charged under the Espionage Act. Prior to leaking a classified NSA report, Winner worked at the national security contractor Pluribus International, where she had top-secret security clearance.
In the immediate aftermath of Winner’s leak, many questioned her motive, wondering whether or not the leak was political due to her previous comments on social media about the president. While she never specifically attributed the leak to being politically motived, she publicly voiced her dismay over Trump’s win on election night, tweeting, “Well. People suck,” and later referred to him as an “orange fascist.”
During a brief hearing on Thursday, Winner told the court that it was never her intent to “harm national security” but apologized and took full responsibility for her actions, nonetheless.
“I would like to apologize profusely for my actions,” she said. “I want to apologize to my family. Nothing is worth time spent away from loved ones.”
“She’s a good person,” her attorney John Bell said of his client. “Someone who didn’t understand the magnitude of what she was doing,” noting that while her crime is severe, she is only a first-time offender.
Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division John C. Demers, however, lauded the court’s decision, saying, “I hope their success will deter others from similar unlawful action in the future.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari echoed this sentiment, claiming that Winner “blatantly violated the trust put in her by the United States,” and added that, “This sentence will deter others from committing the same offense.”
the most dangerous entry to this country was the orange fascist we let into the white house
— Sara Winners (@Reezlie) February 11, 2017
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine published a lengthy statement on the Department of Justice’s website following Winner’s sentencing, in which he more boldly stated that Winner “knowingly and intentionally betrayed the trust of her colleagues and her country.”
“This defendant used her position of trust to steal and divulge closely guarded intelligences information,” wrote Christine. “Her betrayal of the United States put at risk sources and methods of intelligence gathering, thereby offering advantage to our adversaries.”