Reality Winner: NSA contractor sentenced to five years over leak

Reality Leigh Winner, 26, poses in a picture posted to her Instagram accountImage copyright

Image caption

Winner has been sentenced to 63 months in prison

A former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who admitted passing top secret information to the media has been sentenced to more than five years.

Reality Winner, 26, had faced up to 10 years in prison, but this was reduced to 63 months under a plea deal.

She was arrested last year for leaking an NSA report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Her sentence is reported to be the longest given for passing confidential material to a media outlet.

Winner was working as a linguist at an NSA facility in Georgia when she was detained in June 2017 and charged under the Espionage Act.

Media captionReality Winner’s mother says her daughter served her country and is a “good person”

She was caught after investigators noticed that the leaked document appeared to have been folded or creased, indicating that it had been “printed and then carried out of a secured space”, according to an FBI affidavit in support of the arrest warrant.

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Investigators determined that Winner was one of only six people to have printed the document.

Examination of her email on her desk computer further revealed that she had exchanged emails with news outlet, the indictment said.

“I misused my clearance to print out the report,” Winner told a hearing in June, according to Fox News.

“I did so of my own free will.”

What did the leaked documents allege?

The leaked document, believed to have been passed to news website The Intercept, alleged that Moscow’s military intelligence services had attempted cyber-attacks on at least one US voting software supplier days before the 2016 US presidential election.

It also accused Russia of sending phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials.

However, there was no suggestion in the document that the hackers were successful.

The files were apparently marked for declassification not before May 2042.