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Reality Winner to sign plea deal

A plea hearing has been scheduled for accused NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, for Tuesday 26 June 2018 at 10:00AM EST in Augusta, GA.

Accused NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner has signed a plea agreement. A plea hearing has been scheduled for 10.00am EST in Courtroom 2 at the Federal Justice Centre, United States District Court, 600 James Brown Boulevard, Augusta Georgia for Tuesday 26 June 2018.  Further details of the plea agreement will be made available thereafter.

Reality, a six-year Air Force veteran, was arrested in June 2017 for allegedly releasing a classified NSA report on attempted Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Reality, unusually for an Espionage Act case, was denied bail and has spent over a year in a county jail awaiting trial, while her defense has been gagged and hampered by rules governing the use of classified information in court. Had her case gone to trial, Reality faced a maximum ten years in prison under the draconian 1917 Espionage Act.

Reality’s mother, Billie Winner Davis, said:

My daughter Reality has decided to change her plea. I believe that this plea is in Reality’s best interest at this time. Given the time and circumstances and the nature of the Espionage charge I believe that this was the only way that she could receive a fair sentence. I still disagree strongly with the use of the Espionage charge against citizens like reality. The use of the Espionage charge prevents a person from defending themselves or explaining their actions to a jury, thus making it difficult for them to receive a fair trial and treatment in the court system. I do believe that whatever reality did or did not do she acted with good intentions. I know that she will accept full responsibility for any wrongdoing and that she is ready and willing to face the consequences. I ask for continued support for her, She will need your continued support and belief in her as she continues this battle.

The cards were stacked again at her and she couldn’t defend herself against the Espionage charge as that charge doesn’t allow for defendant to show public Interest or best Interest or intent. We need to work toward reforming laws so that the Espionage Act is not leveraged against our citizens.

Disclosure under the Espionage Act is a strict liability offence, with conviction requiring only the potential to cause harm to national security, with no regard to the motive for, or actual impact of, the disclosure at issue. Had Reality’s case gone to trial, she would have been barred from explaining in court that the document in question served to inform the American people about the biggest domestic media story of the past two years. Just yesterday it was revealed that state election officials were unaware of the Russia’s phishing attempt — and therefore would not have been equipped to resist similar attacks – until they read about it in the news, thanks only to Reality Winner.

Reality’s will be the second Espionage Act conviction secured by the Trump administration, after the plea of former FBI agent Terry Albury, who is also alleged to have leaked to The Intercept.

Courage campaigner Nathan Fuller said:

The Trump Administration has signalled its clear intent to continue the Obama-era practice of aggressively punishing low-level leaks that embarrass the government with Espionage Act charges, while allowing top officials to leak with impunity when it serves their interests. Without a plea, Reality could have faced a decade in prison in the prime of her life.  Reality’s case and forced plea highlight the urgent need to overhaul or do away with the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law meant for spies and traitors, not journalists’ sources.

The order for a plea hearing can be found here:

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