Reality Winner, former NSA contractor accused of leaking documents, pleads guilty

Reality Winner, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking classified information to journalists, pleaded guilty Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Winner, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful retention and dissemination of national defense information.

Her plea agreement, signed June 19, says she’s facing a possible sentence of 63 months in jail and three years of supervised release. No date has been set yet for a sentencing hearing.

Winner was arrested in June 2017 for allegedly feeding a classified report with information on Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election to a news outlet.

“I misused my clearance to print out the report…I did so of my own free will,” Winner said during Tuesday's court hearing.

Winner was charged, under the Espionage Act, with removing classified material from a government facility and leaking it. According to court documents, Winner snuck the document out of a secure NSA facility by folding it and putting it in her pantyhose.

During Tuesday's hearing, the judge asked Winner questions about her mental state. Winner disclosed she is taking antidepressant Zoloft and battling an eating disorder as well as depression.

She has been held at the Lincoln County Jail near Augusta, Ga.


Court documents also said Winner complained to her bosses that Fox News was playing in her office – suggesting Al Jazeera would have been a more appropriate choice.

"I've filed formal complaints about them having Fox News on,” she told FBI agents. “… Uh, at least, for God's sake put Al Jazeera on, or a slideshow with people's pets. I've tried everything to get that changed."

She was working as a contractor with a Top Secret security clearance with Pluribus International Corporation at a federal facility in Georgia when, according to the Justice Department, she printed out a sheet of paper with classified information.

While the DOJ didn't specify which outlet reported the secret information, Winner's charges were announced just as The Intercept published details of a NSA report on Russian hacking efforts.

The report seemingly contained information detailing how Russian hackers got into a U.S. voting software supplier and sent so-called "spear-phishing" emails to more than 100 local election officials ahead of the 2016 election.

Fox News’ Terace Garnier and Nicole Darrah and The Associated Press contributed to this report.