U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Winner sentenced for leaking report

(Reuters) – A federal judge sentenced former U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Winner on Thursday to more than five years in prison after she admitted leaking to a media outlet a top secret report on Russian interference in U.S. elections, her attorney said.

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

Winner, 26, who has already spent nearly two years in jail, pleaded guilty in June to passing the National Security Agency report to The Intercept in 2016. Attorney Titus Nichols said she will receive credit for the time she spent in pre-trial confinement.

During a hearing in Winner’s hometown of Augusta, Georgia, Judge James Hall approved a request by her lawyers for a sentence of 63 months, followed by three years of supervised release, according to Elizabeth Bell, a spokeswoman for Winner’s attorneys.

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 contained 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 had 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 Winner 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 her 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 and Dan Grebler

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