Outgoing Michigan Rep. Justin Amash on Tuesday called for the release of Reality Winner, who is currently imprisoned for leaking classified National Security Agency intelligence that showed the extent of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The call comes as Donald Trump’s presidential term reaches its conclusion, and many are calling on him to pardon Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, who leaked classified intelligence that exposed government corruption.
“Reality Winner also deserves some form of clemency,” Amash tweeted. “Her situation is more complex than that of Snowden or Assange (she revealed wrongdoing not by the U.S. gov’t but rather by a foreign gov’t). But because of the abusive application of the Espionage Act, her punishment is unjust.”
Amash’s call received some attention on Twitter from Winner’s sister, Brittany.
“It is absolutely unjust what has happened to my sister #RealityWinner. Thank you for speaking out about her,
@justinamash,” she tweeted in response.
Just over one week ago, actor Mark Hamill called for Winner to be freed on her birthday. The Star Wars legend has expressed support for the former NSA staffer on many occasions.
Winner was charged in 2017 and imprisoned in 2018 for five years and three months. In a piece for Refinery29, Danielle Campoamor noted that Winner’s leak shined a light on Russia’s attempts to disrupt American democracy — something the columnist argued every American has a right to know. The writer also highlighted that Winner’s leak paved the way for the indictments of 34 people and three companies.
Nevertheless, Campoamor suggested that Trump will not likely pardon Winner due to his repeated claims that Russian interference in the United States election is a “hoax.”
American writer and professor Kerry Howley used an NBC News op-ed to call Winner’s treatment “insane” and said there is “no credible evidence” that the intelligence she leaked harmed American national security. She also noted that much of the information was subsequently released to the public.
Whether Winner is pardoned or not, pressure has continued to increase on Trump to use the lame-duck period of his second term to offer clemency to whistleblowers. As reported by Newsweek, rumors have been circulating that the president is on track to pardon Assange. On Monday, Amash called for Assange to receive clemency and argued that his prosecution under the Espionage Act would set a dangerous precedent for journalists around the world.
“His prosecution under the Espionage Act for publishing materials on war abuses and atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq would endanger journalists everywhere and threaten the freedom of the press,” he tweeted.