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Who is Reality Winner and how did she leak classified info?

Jun. 7, 2017
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Every Morning I begin my day with a cup of tea and my morning news updates from my incoming co-workers, who never seem to fail to drop by my desk to debate politics, or rant about the latest Trump tweet. So, you can only imagine my confusion when one of my favorite office ranters barged in and yelled “Reality Winner?!”. In a hilarious moment that seemed like a running “who’s on first” joke, I quickly logged onto my computer and got to the bottom of things.  

Reality Winner (who despite her name) is NOT the new Bachelorette, or the winner of The Voice, but is a 25-year-old Air Force Veteran who is now being charged with mailing classified information to a news outlet.  

Winner, who was arrested on Saturday from her home in Augusta, Georgia, has admitted to intentionally mailing the classified documents, despite knowing that she did not have clearance to do so. The news of her arrest came one hour after the Intercept  published the story on Monday, accompanied by a National Security Agency document, which made allegations towards the Russian government hackers, stating that they had targeted 122 local election officials during the end of last years Presidential election.   

As stated in the document: “Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.”

Winner, who has openly bashed President Trump on her Twitter page, served as a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force from December 2010 to February 2016. Winner  received the Air Force Commendation Medal in 2016, for her service in which she "provided over 1,900 hours of enemy intelligence exploitation and assisted in geolocating 120 enemy combatants." Following her work with the Air Force, Winner took up a position as a subcontractor with Pluribus International Corp, where she had top secret security clearance. 

“I never thought this would be something she would do,” Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis told The Guardian. “I mean, she has expressed to me that she is not a fan of (President) Trump, but she’s not someone who would go and riot or picket.”

Winners is now being charged under the Espionage Act and, if convicted, will face up to 10 years in prison. 

"She served her country, she is a veteran," her stepfather, Gary Davis, told CNN reporter Anderson Cooper. "She's a patriot, and to see her maligned and slandered in the media is very disheartening."