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Reality Winner says she leaked NSA info on Russia 2016 election meddling to serve American people

NSA leaker Reality Winner, 30, denies being a ‘traitor’ and says she passed classified report on Russian election interference to the media ‘to serve the American people’, in first interview since release from five-year sentence

  • Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner sat down with CBS 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley Sunday in first interview since June prison release  
  • The Air Force vet was jailed in 2018 for leaking a classified report to the media during the 2016 and subsequently being prosecuted under the Espionage Act
  • During the interview, Winner, 30, asserted that she’s not a traitor and only acted in ‘service to the American people’ when she leaked the classified documents
  • ‘I am not a traitor. I am not a spy. I am somebody who only acted out of love for what this country stands for,’ Winner, now released and living in Texas, said


Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner told CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday that she’s not a traitor and acted in ‘service to the American people’ when she leaked classified documents on Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and subsequently served four years behind bars.

‘I am not a traitor. I am not a spy. I am somebody who only acted out of love for what this country stands for,’ Winner, 30, asserted in her interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley. 

The Sunday sit down was the Air Force veteran’s first official interview since her release from prison last June, for leaking a classified report to the US media during the 2016 election and subsequently being prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner told CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday that she’s not a traitor and acted in ‘service to the American people’ when she leaked classified documents on Russian meddling in the 2016 US election

The classified report allegedly detailed how the Russian military ‘executed cyber espionage’ against local election officials the year of the contentious election between former President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. 

‘I’m still stained by them accusing me of being the same groups that I enlisted in the Air Force to fight against,’ said Winner, who won the Air Force Commendation Medal in 2016 for ‘600 enemies killed in action.’ 

At the time, Winter was a linguist in an elite combat unit engaged in secret missions for the US service.

Winter also served at an Air Force duty station in Fort Meade, Maryland, where she and other linguists eavesdropped on communications from 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan, to identify targets for armed drones. 

Winter was a linguist in an elite combat unit engaged in secret missions for the US service prior to her 2017 arrest. She was sentenced to five years in federal prison the following year

Winter was a linguist in an elite combat unit engaged in secret missions for the US service prior to her 2017 arrest. She was sentenced to five years in federal prison the following year

Winner was eventually found guilty and arrested in 2017 on charges of leaking sensitive material to the media. 

After a trial that stretched on for more than year, Winner pleaded guilty and was dealt the longest sentence ever on a civilian for releasing unauthorized government documents to the press.

Winner was subsequently convicted and sentenced to five years and three months at Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

Winner was just 25 at the time of the sentencing, and served four years of her five-year sentence behind bars.

Winter leaked documents - marked 'Top Secret - that showed the Russian military 'executed cyber espionage' during the 2016 election, against '122 local government organizations'

Winter leaked documents – marked ‘Top Secret – that showed the Russian military ‘executed cyber espionage’ during the 2016 election, against ‘122 local government organizations’

During the interview, Winner, now 30 and living in Texas, spoke with Pelley about the government’s case against her, her time in prison, and her alleged act of treason – which she asserted was her patriotic duty to the American people. 

Winner explained to Pelley that she was concerned that ‘the truth wasn’t true anymore’ when she leaked documents – that were marked ‘Top Secret – that showed the Russian military ‘executed cyber espionage’ during the election, against ‘122 local government organizations.’

According to federal officials, the report detailed how Russian agents were ‘targeting officials involved in the management of voter registration systems’ during the voting process.

The classified nature of the documents stemmed from the fact that the report revealed US knowledge on covert Russian tactics to influence election. 

The disgraced servicewomen recalled the contentious political climate of mistrust and confusion that plagued America in the wake of the election. 

‘The public was being lied to,’ Winner asserted in the interview. 

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