Reality Winner to be sentenced for leaking top secret U.S. report

(Reuters) – Former U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Winner, who pleaded guilty to illegally leaking to a media outlet a top secret report on Russian interference in U.S. elections, was due to be sentenced on Thursday in Georgia.

FILE PHOTO: Combination photo showing Reality Winner, the U.S. intelligence contractor charged with leaking classified National Security Agency material, is seen in these undated booking photos in Lincolnton, Georgia, U.S., received June 8, 2017. Lincoln County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

The 26-year-old, who has spent nearly two years in jail, was accused of passing a National Security Agency report to The Intercept in 2016. She initially denied the charges but in June changed her plea to guilty.

Her attorneys have requested a prison sentence of 63 months followed by three years of supervised release, arguing that it was “more than sufficient to satisfy the goals of sentencing,” court documents showed.

An attorney for Winner would not comment on Thursday when asked about the sentencing hearing, which is due to take place at 10 a.m. ET in federal court in Winner’s hometown of Augusta, Georgia.

Winner had been working with Pluribus International Corp, a company that provides analytical services for U.S. defense and intelligence agencies.

The NSA document she gave the news outlet offered technical details on what it said were Russian attempts to hack election officials in the United States and a voting-machine company before the presidential election in November 2016, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the case have said.

Winner was indicted on a single federal count of willful retention and transmission of national defense information, a felony under the Espionage and Censorship Act that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

A federal judge ordered that she be held without bond after prosecutors said she posed a flight risk and public danger, citing what they called “disturbing” comments in her notebook.

In one section she wrote: “I want to burn the White House down,” according to prosecutors, who said investigators also found the names of three Islamic extremists known to federal authorities listed in Winner’s notebook.

Winner admitted to intentionally printing a copy of the intelligence report in her office and mailing it to the news organization, court documents showed. The government did not allege that she sought to share the report with foreign agents.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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