- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2017

National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner told FBI agents that she leaked a classified document detailing Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because she believed the information should be public, according to a new court filing.

Federal attorneys prosecuting Ms. Winner in connection with the leak filed a transcript on Wednesday of the conversation she had with FBI agents inside her Augusta, Georgia, residence prior to being taken into custody and charged with mishandling top-secret materials.

Ms. Winner, 25, initially denied sending the document to The Intercept news site but confessed after FBI agents said they could prove she printed it on the job at Pluribus, an Atlanta-based intelligence contractor where she worked as a translator.

While the outlet and information about the document are redacted in court documents, previous reporting has linked Ms. Winner, a 6-year Air Force veteran, as the person who sent The Intercept a classified NSA article describing how Russian hackers targeted U.S. voting systems during last year’s race, seemingly boosting the U.S. intelligence community’s assertion that Moscow meddled in President Trump’s election.

“I saw the article and was like, I don’t understand why this isn’t a thing,” Ms. Winner told FBI agents during the June 9 interview. “It made me very mad.”

“I felt really hopeless, and seeing that information that had been contested back and forth, back and forth, in the public domain for so long, trying to figure out, like, with everything else that keeps getting released and keeps getting leaked … why isn’t this out there? Why can’t this be public?” she asked.

Ms. Winner was taken into custody shortly after the interview concluded and was subsequently charged with a single count of violating the U.S. Espionage Act. Prosecutors suggested they’ll seek a prison sentence of nine years behind bars if she’s convicted when the case goes to trial next March. A federal magistrate is slated to hear arguments this Friday before ruling whether she should be released pending trial.

Ms. Winner’s attorneys previously argued her initial interrogation should be excluded as evidence because she wasn’t read her Miranda rights before confessing.

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