Reality Winner is a 25 year old NSA contractor and former Air Force linguist charged with providing documents about Russian election hacking to the Intercept.
The Trump Administration appears intent to make an example of Winner: she’s been charged under the Espionage Act, and denied bail after prosecutors argued she is a flight risk and a danger to the public after selectively sharing tidbits from a personal notebook. Her trial is set to start on October 23.
If Reality Winner did share the information she is accused of sharing, then she is a whistleblower, not a spy. The Espionage Act is meant to penalize those who commit actual espionage and intend to harm national security or aid foreign adversaries. It is an abuse of this already Constitutionally-questionable statute to use it to bring charges against those who seek to inform the public by providing information to the media.
Standing With Reality
Defending Rights & Dissent supports StandWithReality.org, an effort launched by individuals to raise funds for her defense, educate the public about her case, and advocate for the charges to be dropped.
Stand With Reality believes the charge against Winner is grossly disproportionate to her alleged offense, and is designed to create a chilling effect on investigative journalism by dissuading sources from sharing information that is critical to the public interest. The group is dedicated to raising public awareness of Winner’s case, as well as the U.S. government’s persistent abuse of the Espionage Act to silence its critics and stifle journalism.
“The document Winner is alleged to have given The Intercept is vital for understanding how U.S. election systems are seriously vulnerable to hacking. It is absurd that the government is charging her under the draconian Espionage Act rather than helping states fix our country’s election security,” said Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist project director and co-founder of Stand With Reality.
The organization aims to fully fund Winner’s legal defense team headed by attorney Titus Nichols, of the Augusta, Georgia law firm of Bell & Brigham. Stand with Reality launched a crowdfunding campaign today to cover both legal fees and public awareness efforts. “It is refreshing to know that so many people that Ms. Winner has never known have come together to offer their support and prayers for her,” notes Nichols. “Your pledge of additional support, for fees related to her case, is commendable,” he adds.
Mountains of Innuendo
“The government is scraping and clawing to build a mountain out of a molehill,” Winner’s attorney Titus Nichols told the AP. And that mountain is built on innuendo. A statement from The Intercept reminds us that the information coming from the Justice Department should not necessarily be taken at face value:
While the FBI’s allegations against Winner have been made public through the release of an affidavit and search warrant, which were unsealed at the government’s request, it is important to keep in mind that these documents contain unproven assertions and speculation designed to serve the government’s agenda and as such warrant skepticism. Winner faces allegations that have not been proven. The same is true of the FBI’s claims about how it came to arrest Winner.