'I'm in Trouble': Alleged Leaker's Words to Mom in Phone Call

Reality Winner faces up to 10 years in prison
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2017 12:34 PM CDT
Mom Fears Alleged NSA Leaker Will Pay a Tough Price
Reality Winner   (YouTube/CNN)

It sounds like the two people most surprised by the arrest of 25-year-old Reality Winner as an alleged leaker of classified information are her mother and stepfather. "She would not jeopardize anybody's safety," mom Billie Davis-Winner tells NBC News in Augusta, Ga. "She's not a threat to anyone. She's not a violent person." Stepdad Gary Davis, meanwhile, says she served in the military with distinction, and "to see her portrayed in the media as something other than [the] patriot that she is, is an insult to the service and an insult to every veteran who's served." Here's the latest on the case:

  • The accusation: Winner worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency with a high security clearance, and she's accused of copying a classified document about Russian hacking and mailing it to media outlet The Intercept.
  • Mom's fear: Given President Trump's harsh words against leakers, "I fear that they're going to make an example out of her," says her mother. She adds that her daughter told her, "I'm in trouble," adding that she was afraid "they were going to make her disappear."
  • Late-night puns: Hosts had a field day with the story Tuesday, especially that memorable name. "So it's official. The Trump administration is at war with Reality," said Stephen Colbert. The Washington Post rounds them up, also taking note of Seth Meyers' offering: "Reality Winner leaked information about a reality denier who tried to influence the election to support a reality host who is detached from reality. So now the winner is the loser, and this loser who helped this loser win is the winner, and that’s our reality."

  • Microdots: A post at Errata Security explains how the NSA was able to trace Winner through microdots left by a color printer she used. The New York Times goes through other clues.
  • No fan of Trump: Winner's social media posts prior to her arrest made clear she was opposed to President Trump, at one point referring to him as a "piece of s---," reports the AP. Other posts showed her interest in the environment, animals, working out, and yoga.
  • Linguist: Winner, who was raised in Kingsville, Texas, served in the Air Force from 2010 to 2016 and speaks Pashto, Farsi, and Dari, per CNN. Her last military post was as a "cryptologic language analyst."
  • The hacking: The report apparently based on the leak is here via The Intercept. It alleges that "Russian hacking may have penetrated further into US voting systems than was previously understood."
  • What's next: Winner has yet to enter a plea but is due in court Thursday. She faces up to 10 years under the Espionage Act, though the standard sentence in such cases is generally one to three years, notes New York.
(Read more Reality Winner stories.)

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