Reality Winner, the former National Security Agency who was arrested for leaking classified information and has been in prison since 2018, has been released to a halfway house, according to her lawyer. Winner was granted a shortened sentence for good behavior, a move cheered by her family and supporters who say was done dirty by the justice system.
The former Air Force linguist was prosecuted after she leaked a classified report about Russian election interference to the Intercept. The report contained classified information about Russian intelligence operatives attempting to hack local elections and a company that was selling voter registration data. Winner determined that awareness about these issues was in the public’s best interest, but the Intercept bungled their report on the story, leaving a digital trail that easily identified Winner as the leaker.
She was denied bail, and her time in prison has been markedly challenging, with the Texas ice storm knocking out her heating and power, and a COVID-19 outbreak killing several of her fellow inmates. There was also an unexplained week in isolation, during which her Bible was taken from her despite her pleas.
Winner and her legal team have been petitioning for a commutation ever since, and her supporters were pleading for her name to be included in the broad swash of pardons issued by former President Donald Trump is his final days in office. However, neither Trump nor current President Joe Biden have weighed in on Winner’s case.
Monday’s decision means Winner will be moved to a facility where she’ll be able to work, attend classes, see family and go outside. She won’t be able to talk about her work at the NSA, but will be able to speak up about justice issues she’s passionate about. Her family expects that she will do so.
In 2019, Big Beach Productions announced that pre-production had begun on a movie about Winner’s experience, tentatively titled Winner.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.