- Reality Winner was jailed for leaking a US report on the Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
- She was released in June 2021 on good behavior, after four years of incarceration.
- Winner told CBS she is “not a traitor” and had leaked the documents “out of love” for her country.
A former National Security Agency contractor jailed for leaking a document about Russian hacking in the 2016 election has spoken out about her experiences, insisting that she is “not a traitor.”
Reality Winner, now 30, was arrested in 2017 and admitted to taking classified intelligence documents that same year.
She was accused of mailing top-secret NSA information to the media outlet The Intercept. The classified document detailed Russian government efforts to hack a Florida-based US voting software supplier.
In 2018, Winner was sentenced to more than five years in prison. She was released in June 2021 for good behavior.
Speaking to CBS, Winner said she thought something was amiss after watching then President Donald Trump attempt to sow doubt about whether Russia had influenced the 2016 election.
“I just kept thinking, ‘My God, somebody needs to step forward and put this right. Somebody,'” Winner told the outlet.
“I knew it was secret. 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,” she added.
Winner told CBS that she “meant no harm and “did not betray” the US’ “sources and methods” of obtaining intelligence by leaking the document.
“It only filled in a question mark that was tearing our country in half in May 2017,” Winner said.
She also told CBS about what it’s like being called a “terrorist.”
“I’ve had four years of just trying to say I’m not a terrorist. I can’t even begin to talk about my actual espionage indictment. Or have a sense of accomplishment in having survived prison,” Winner said.
She added that she felt “stained” by the accusations that labeled her as part of the same groups she had enlisted in the Air Force to fight against.