Reality Winner, the former intelligence contractor who received the longest-ever sentence for leaking government information to the media, has won early release from prison. Winner was 25 when she was arrested in July 2017 for leaking documents on Russian attempts to hack the 2016 election and has been behind bars since. She was sentenced to 63 months in 2018. Her release to what lawyer Alison Grinter Allen says is the "residential reentry process" comes weeks after she asked the Biden administration why she was serving a longer sentence than an "actual Russian spy." But Allen says Winner is being released early due to exemplary behavior, not as a "product of the pardon or compassionate release process," NBC reports. Sources tell the AP that Winner has been released to home confinement.
"I am thrilled to announce that Reality Winner has been released from prison," Allen tweeted Monday. "She is still in custody in the residential reentry process, but we are relieved and hopeful." When Winner was sentenced, she had no criminal record, and critics accused the Trump-era Justice Department of trying to make an example out of her as it stepped up its campaign against leakers, Axios notes. A request for release during the early months of the COVID crisis was denied, and she tested positive for the virus last July. Allen tells the Verge that Winner, who is still banned from making public statements and whose release date is still listed as November this year, plans to continue seeking commutation and a pardon. (Read more Reality Winner stories.)