RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - Former government contractor Reality Winner's sentence is the longest ever given for an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information to the media, according to the United states Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. She apologized for doing so Thursday in court.
A strong message sent to those who may have their own ideas about leaking classified government information.
"Winner will serve a term of incarceration that will give pause to others who are entrusted with our country's sensitive national security information," said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine.
That information was reportedly so sensitive that federal agents didn't want to go to trial because it would require declassification. Agents said Winner's decision to work at Fort Gordon was a calculated move; that she researched how to insert a thumb drive into a top secret computer and applied for job opportunities with access to classified information.
She signed multiple non-disclosure agreements but still searched for, identified and printed a NSA document unrelated to her job, federal agents said.
"The intelligence report that Winner disclosed described intelligence activities by a foreign government directed at targets in the United States," Christine said.
That leak will cost her more than five years in prison. Her mother is hopeful she will be sent to federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. "Even though it's gonna be, like seven hours away from home, it will at least be a lot easier for us to maintain contact and visits with her and from what I've heard is that facility can also meet her needs," said Billie Winner-Davis.
Her attorneys said those mental health needs include getting treatment for bulimia and depression. Winner's attorneys say she deserves a second chance and she'll get one once she's released.