The lawyer for Reality Leigh Winner, the National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking classified information, doesn’t believe her tweets railing against President Trump will be allowed in court.
“We can talk about them all day long on television,” Titus Nichols, Winner’s attorney, said in a CNN interview on Tuesday morning. “When it comes to the actual trial or court proceeding, that’s going to be a different matter.”
Winner, a 25-year-old former Air Force linguist from Augusta, Ga., was arrested Saturday and charged with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet. In early May, she allegedly printed out a top-secret NSA report detailing Russian hacking efforts days before the 2016 election, and reportedly sent it to an online publication, the Intercept, which published it Monday.
According to the FBI, Winner confessed to the crime when she was confronted by federal investigators. She admitted to “intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a ‘need to know,’ and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified,” according to the complaint.
She also confessed to “removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it,” the Justice Department said.
Counsel for accused NSA leaker Reality Winner declines to say if client admitted alleged crime as government claims https://t.co/uh3doVLojm
— New Day (@NewDay) June 7, 2017
But Nichols refused to say whether his client copped to the crime.
“We don’t have the facts yet,” he said on CNN. “All we have is a press release that the Department of Justice issued.”
In that release, federal officials celebrated the arrest of Winner as fulfilling Trump’s promise to crack down on leakers.
“Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement announcing the charges. “People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”
Winner is being held in a Lincoln County, Ga., jail. Her next court appearance is Thursday, where Nichols says he will argue for her release, especially considering her passport has already been confiscated by U.S. officials.
“She’s not a risk for flight,” he said. “Plus with all the worldwide media attention she’s received, there’s little to no chance she can go anywhere without anybody recognizing her.”
In interviews this week, family members have painted a different picture of Winner than the Trump hating tweeter seen in recent media reports.
“She’s just a good kid. She’s got a great big heart,” her stepfather, Gary Davis, told the New York Times. “She looked at the Air Force and wanted to serve her country, and she did that with honors and did an exemplary job.”
Her mother, Billie Winner-Davis, said her daughter told them she was scared after her arrest, but did not tell them she did what the U.S. government alleges.
“She hasn’t admitted it to us at all,” Winner-Davis stated. “What she told me was that she was terrified. She was terrified of the situation and she did tell me also that she was afraid she was going to disappear.”
“I think her parents have done a phenomenal job of explaining to the world who she is as a person,” Nichols said, “not just this figure that’s been created in the span of a week.”
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