AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Alleged leaker Reality Winner appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon. She is charged with giving classified information about Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election to news outlet The Intercept.
She pleaded not guilty, and the judge decided not to let her out on bond.
A federal prosecutor presented evidence Thursday that she calls “disconcerting” and “frightening.” A laptop computer, four phones, a tablet and two spiral notebooks have been seized from Winner’s home. The prosecutor says information from those paints a concerning picture, while the defense brought character witnesses to the stand, including Winner’s parents. They say she’s always been a straight-A student who has never been in any trouble.
Winner appeared before the court Thursday in an orange jumpsuit, shackles around her ankles, and after a bond and indictment hearing that lasted more than two hours, she returned to jail.
Judge Brian Epps denied bond for the 25-year-old intelligence contractor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari argued that Winner deliberately acted in a way that could harm the U.S.
She says notebooks found at Winner’s house included some disturbing passages. She says they showed a strong and persistent desire to travel to the middle east and included the sentence “I want to burn the white house down.”
We were unable to speak with the prosecutor or the defense attorneys. Winner’s parents didn’t speak publicly either. They offered to put down their home and farm for her bond, but the judge ruled against releasing her.
The prosecutor said Winner would be a target to be recruited by U.S. adversaries if released.
She also pointed to a recorded conversation between Winner and her mother form jail. Her mother asked her why she was there. She responded, “Mom, those documents. I screwed up,” suggesting Winner may have taken more documents than the one she allegedly mailed to The Intercept.
Solari says Winner also put a thumb drive into a top-secret computer, which they haven’t located.
The court will reconvene in two weeks to go over security clearances needed for Winner’s attorneys in this case.