11th Circuit Appeals Court Denies Bail Hearing for Election Hacking Whistleblower
The Friends of Reality Winner support group (standwithreality.org) is extremely disappointed by yesterday’s ruling of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the indefinite imprisonment of Reality Leigh Winner. Ms. Winner has been jailed without bail since June 6, 2017 for helping expose Russian hacking that targeted US election systems.
“I am beyond heartbroken” shared Winner’s mother, Billie Davis-Winner. “The trial, originally scheduled in October 2017 and then reset to March 2018, will once again be reset to a much later date, but as of now we do not have a new setting. There is so much going on with the evidence and discovery and there are a few active appeals not yet ruled on. It’s gonna be a long journey.”
Winner, a decorated Air Force veteran with no criminal record, who has already served eight months in jail despite being convicted of no crime, and displaying every intention to face the single charge against her in court, will now be jailed for another year, regardless of the jury’s eventual verdict.
Government transparency advocate Rainey Reitman adds that “Reality Winner is facing an unjust and unconstitutional prosecution under the Espionage Act. This 100 year old law, created to prosecute spies during World War I, isn’t designed to be used on whistleblowers. Under this law, the judge won’t consider her motives or the public benefits of her actions as a whistleblower. It makes it impossible for her to receive a fair trial.”
Jeff Paterson, who managed the successful campaign to free Chelsea Manning, notes that, “By the time Reality’s trial starts, she’ll have spent a full year and half behind bars. Meanwhile the actual Russiagate indicted criminals, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, haven’t spent a day in jail.”
“Winner’s case has precedent setting implications for whistleblowers trying to do the right thing, press freedom, election suppression, and the government’s escalating war on dissent. Reality took a risk to share something that Americans had a right to know,” Paterson added.
- January 2017 – After serving six years in the Air Force, Winner takes a job as an NSA intelligence contractor.
- May 9, 2017 – President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. Winner allegedly finds and prints a classified report entitled, “Russia/Cybersecurity: Main Intelligence Directorate Cyber Actors.”
- May 10, 2017 – Trump celebrates with Russian officials in the White House, bragging that he had fired “nut job” Comey in order to end any “Russiagate” investigation.
- May 11, 2017 – Winner allegedly sends NSA report to the media outlet “The Intercept.”
- May 17, 2017 – Special counsel Robert Mueller appointed to investigate “Russiagate.”
- June 5, 2017 – Winner arrested. During interrogation, she allegedly states, “Why do I have this job if I’m just going to sit back and be helpless … I just thought that was the final straw … I felt really hopeless seeing that information contested … Why isn’t this out there? Why can’t this be public?”
US v. WINNER INSIGHT
Contrary to a focus on citizens’ right to know of attacks against election infrastructure, Winner’s Espionage Act charge actually requires the government to prove that the leak itself caused harm rather than exposed it. Joe Whitley, attorney for Reality Winner, recently explained. “This is not a simple case. 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) — the charged offense here — is a notoriously complicated statute that has numerous elements the Government must prove.” (Case document #203)
Winner has a top notch defense team determined to prove her innocence in court, despite the prosecution’s ongoing campaign to deny her the right to a fair and open trial. The Friends of Reality Winner support group has been the primary source of fundraising for Winner’s legal defense team and is leading public education efforts regarding this precedent setting First Amendment vs. Espionage Act case.
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