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Whistleblower Reality Winner, Charged Under the Espionage Act for Helping to Inform Public of Russian Election Meddling, Pleads Guilty

Published: June 26, 2018
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Source: The Intercept

WHISTLEBLOWER REALITY WINNER entered into a plea deal with the Justice Department on Tuesday, ostensibly putting an end to her case that has seen her held in jail for over a year without trial. Her indictment was the Trump administration’s first prosecution in its crackdown on leaks, which now includes many others. As part of the plea agreement, Winner will consent to serving over five years behind bars.

Winner stated in federal court today that she pleads guilty to one count of violating Section 793 of the Espionage Act and will agree to a sentence of 63 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release. She was accused by President Donald Trump’s administration of releasing national security information to the media. On June 5, 2017, The Intercept published a story that detailed attempts by alleged Russian hackers to break into state election infrastructure, widely believed to be based on the document Winner plead guilty to releasing. (The Intercept has stated it had no knowledge of the source’s identity. The Intercept’s parent company, First Look Media, contributed to Winner’s legal defense through its Press Freedom Defense Fund).

“Despite the fact that Winner’s disclosure served the public interest by alerting Americans to vulnerabilities in our voting system, the Trump-Sessions Justice Department prosecuted her with vicious resolve under the Espionage Act,” said The Intercept’s Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed in a statement. “Her plea agreement reflects the conclusion of Winner and her lawyers that the terms of this deal represent the best outcome possible for her in the current environment. She not only faced unrelenting pressure from prosecutors, but a series of setbacks in the courtroom severely restricted her lawyers’ ability to defend her.”

Reed added, “She deserves better from her country, as do all journalistic sources who put themselves at risk for the greater good.”

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