President Joe Biden has been urged to pardon former National Security Agency (NSA) translator Reality Winner following her 60 Minutes interview.
Winner was convicted for 5 years and three months at Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2018 for releasing information to the media regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.
This is the longest sentence a U.S. citizen has received for the crime of leaking classified information to the press. Winner was 25 at the time of the sentencing.
Winner was released from prison earlier this year. She has now spoke on 60 Minutes with Scott Pelley and insisted she is not a traitor.
She said she only “acted out of love for what the U.S. stands for” when she leaked the documents that showed the Russian military “executed cyber espionage” in 2016 against “122 local government organizations.”
Winner was arrested in 2017. She eventually pleaded guilty to releasing unauthorized government documents to the press.
Discussing why she did it, Winner said: “I know it was top secret, I knew that but I also knew I had pledged service to the American people.
During her trial, Winner was not allowed to go into specific details of the leak. During her interview, she highlighted what she would have said to the judge if she was able.
She said: “I would have told the judge that I thought this was the truth but also did not betray our sources and methods.
“I did not cause damage, did not put lives on the line, it only filled in a question mark that was tearing our country in half in May 2017. I meant no harm.”
After the release of the interview, many people took to Twitter to insist that Winner was a patriot and should be pardoned. Authors Jamie Ford and Majid M. Padellan both defended Winner on their Twitter accounts.
Ford wrote: “History will look kindly on Reality Winner.
“How do I know? I’m one of the people who writes those books. Also, they have an epic name.”
Padellan wrote: “If you can’t pardon a patriot like Reality Winner, then nobody deserves a pardon.
“Please, POTUS pardon her.”
Actress Mia Farrow also praised Winner for her actions and wrote: “Reality Winner should NEVER have been imprisoned. She is a courageous American patriot. Thank you Reality Winner.”
Scott Dworkin, the co-founder and lead investigator of the Democratic Coalition, shared the hashtag calling for Winner’s pardon.
In a tweet, he wrote: “It’s time to pardon Reality Winner. Who else agrees?#PardonRealityWinner.
In another tweet, he wrote: “I spoke to Reality Winner’s mom Billie, who called on President Biden to grant her daughter clemency.
“It is truly heartbreaking to hear Billie Winner-David describe the horrors of the last few years. But also it’s inspiring. A must listen.”
Winner also faced criticism.
Political commentator Mark Davis said: “Traitorous narcissism. God save us from rogues who decide they have some glorious insight that lofts their momentary judgments beyond the scope of their duties.”