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The Railroading of Reality Winner*

Jailing Reality Winner under a 63 month sentence without a fair trial is one of our country’s greatest travesties in recent times.  Her “crime”?   In May 2017 she provided news media with classified information that showed Russia was attempting to hack into our voting machines. Trump was lying when he said “No Russian Interference”. 

Imagine how angry Trump must have been.  At the time, he was trying to convince the country that Russia was our friend, and we should lift the Russian sanctions.   And a report comes out showing Russia is attacking us. 

It took about a month before the FBI found the whistle-blower, a 26 year-old decorated Air Force veteran named Reality Winner.  Like many of us, she was concerned that Trump was compromised by Putin.  Since 2016 her employer may have had the proof that Russia was attempting to hack into voting machines.  Did Reality Winner wonder why her bosses or others in government were not standing up and letting people know?  Did she believe it was her patriotic duty to send out the information under the hope it would stop Trump lies?   

Now imagine what Trump does when he finds out the FBI arrested the whistle-blower, a woman who wrote on her twitter account that Trump is “the most dangerous entry to this country”….an “orange fascist we let into the White House”?   Did Trump call Comey into his office and tell him to tell Sessions to “nail her to the wall as a message”, or “put her head on a pike” as Trump and Comey agreed was the solution to dealing with whistle-blowers.

Reality Winner was arrested on June 3, 2017 and charged under the Espionage Act. This law was designed to prevent sensitive information being passed to foreign countries to the detriment our national security. By charging Reality Winner under the Espionage Act, she was unable to defend herself. Her lawyers were prohibited from talking to the press.  Her defense was prevented from arguing that leaking the information actually strengthened our country rather than harming us, by shining the light on Russia’s attempts to hack into the voting machines.   Forty-seven of the forty-eight defense attorney motions, including motions to call witnesses were denied.   And her motivation, to defend democracy, was deemed irrelevant.

During the lengthy trial, Ms Winner was denied bail and imprisoned in a small Georgia county jail. Imagine how she was “tortured” by not being provided with adequate medical care, having her artwork damaged, and kept confined to a small cage for long periods of time.   After more than a year, she had enough. Without hope of a fair trial,  Reality signed a plea deal for 63 months in exchange for being moved to a “better” federal prison.  Her sentence was the longest ever for providing classified information to the media.  Was Trump mocking her when he tweeted “so unfair”?

Recently we learned the government knew that Reality Winner’s leak of information may have prevented further Russian interference in the midterm elections.  “The Intercept confirmed, through public records requests, that state-level election officials were unaware that hackers had attempted to phish election infrastructure contractors ahead of the 2016 election — until after the June 5, 2017, Intercept story”…about Reality Winner conviction was publicized. “The story was apparently so important that the U.S. agency in charge of helping states with elections sent out an urgent message to state officials pointing to the report and calling it “credible,” and then giving the states advice on what their next steps should be to protect themselves.”

An American hero is in a federal prison.  She’ll be there until December 29, 2021 unless we do something.  Will you help by writing letter, calling and or sending tweets?  And we are calling for a day of protest on June, 3, 2019, the 2 year anniversary of her jailing.

*The Story and Action Plan reflect solely the opinion of Thomas Kaine. Reality Winner, her family, and other organizations in her support have NOT been involved in the drafting of this report or the Actions recommended here.