Whistleblower Reality Winner sentenced to longest prison term in the history of federal leak cases

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A federal judge has agreed to a plea deal negotiated by the Justice Department and whistleblower Reality Winner. For one count of violating Section 793 of the archaic Espionage Act, Winner will serve 63 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release—the longest sentence a source of the press has received in federal court in history.

Winner agreed to the plea in July after being accused of leaking a secret NSA report to the media that detailed how alleged Russian actors attempted to hack United States election infrastructure. She had confined in jail awaiting trial for over a full year without bail.

Freedom of the Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm issued the following statement:

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“Reality Winner is a whistleblower who alerted the public about a critical threat to election security. It is a travesty that the Justice Department continues to prosecute sources of journalists under the Espionage Act, a statute meant for spies that doesn’t allow for a public interest defense. Winner performed a public service by alerting the public and state officials to dangerous vulnerabilities in election infrastructure, and it’s shameful the Justice Department would seek any prison time for her doing so—let alone the longest sentence for such an act in history. ”

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