Reality L. Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor who was the first person prosecuted during the Trump administration on charges of leaking classified information, has been released to a halfway house, her lawyer announced Monday.
Ms. Winner’s more than five-year sentence was shortened because of good behavior, though the government will continue to restrict her public comments.
She was released from Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She will spend the next six months in a halfway house, where she will have access to the outdoors and be able to meet with her family, and then will be under supervised release, her lawyer, Alison Grinter Allen, said in an interview.
Ms. Winner was held under difficult conditions. The prison lost power and heat during last winter’s ice storms in Texas, and a number of fellow inmates died of Covid-19. Her communications were closely monitored, and the government refused until now to move her to a less secure facility, Ms. Allen said.
“It was a terrible, terrible time,” Ms. Allen said. “Not that there is any great time to be in prison.”
A former Air Force linguist, Ms. Winner entered a guilty plea in 2018 after being prosecuted for leaking classified information. She had been arrested in 2017 and charged with sending a classified report about election interference to reporters at The Intercept.
The report described hacks by Russian intelligence operatives against local election officials and a company that sold software related to voter registration.
As Ms. Winner began to petition for a pardon or commutation, Ms. Allen was added to her legal team because her other lawyers were banned from speaking publicly about the case.
Ms. Winner sought clemency from President Donald J. Trump, with her legal team submitting thousands of letters in an effort to get him to intervene in her case. Mr. Trump never acted.
Once she is released from the halfway house, she will still not be able to talk about any of the documents she reviewed while working at the National Security Agency, but she will be able to speak broadly about issues that concern her.
“It would surprise me if advocacy and activism was not a part of her life going forward,” Ms. Allen said, “whether it be about the conditions and the state of mass incarceration, or political prosecutions, or election integrity.”
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