The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Wednesday a district court’s order keeping accused National Security Agency leaker Reality Winner behind bars pending trial.
A federal appellate panel ruled 3-0 to uphold a lower court’s ruling detaining Ms. Winner, 26, effectively seeing she remains jailed until her leak case is heard likely later this year.
Ms. Winner was arrested in June 2017 in Augusta, Georgia, and subsequently charged in connection with sharing classified material obtained while employed at Pluribus, an Atlanta-based contracting firm, and ordered held until trial.
Defense attorneys had sought to secure Ms. Winner’s release from jail prior to court proceedings starting, but the 11th Circuit quashed that bid by upholding a lower court’s pretrial detention order, citing the likelihood of the accused fleeing the country.
“[T]he district court did not err in finding by a preponderance that Ms. Winner is a flight risk and that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure her appearance,” the appellate panel wrote in the 5-page ruling affirming the detention order.
While defense attorney’s referenced factors including Ms. Winner’s six years of Air Force service and aspirations for humanitarian work for reason warranting her release from jail, prosecutors and ultimately the appellate panel said they were outweighed by elements that make her a potential flight risk.
Ms. Winner previously admitted to leaking the classified material in question, and “at this point in the proceedings the government’s case appears to be relatively strong,” the 11th Circuit wrote.
The appellate panel also cited Ms. Winner’s knowledge of foreign languages and her recent comments she made to her sister — “I want to burn the White House down” and “Find somewhere in Kurdistan to live,” among others — as factors necessitating her ongoing detention.
R. Brian Tanner, the U.S. attorney that fought the appeal, declined to comment on the ruling when reached by The Washington Times.
Attorneys for Ms. Winner did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Specifics concerning Ms. Winner’s case are redacted in court documents, but previous reporting indicates she stands accused of leaking an NSA intelligence report detailing Russia’s role in the 2016 race to The Intercept, an online news site.
Proceedings in her case are currently slated to begin in March 2018, and Ms. Winner faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence if found guilty of violating the U.S. Espionage Act.