In her first interview since being released from prison, election whistleblower and Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner finally had the opportunity to tell her side of a much-misconstrued story regarding her motives for leaking classified documents on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Air Force veteran told “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley, “I am not a traitor. I am not a spy. I am somebody who only acted out of love for what this country stands for.”
Winner spoke to her family’s fight to clear her name and overturn her sentencing for an act she saw as part of her duty to her country and the toll it’s taken on her. “I’m still stained by them accusing me of being the same groups that I enlisted in the Air Force to fight against,” added Winner, who won the Air Force Commendation Medal in 2016 for “600 enemies killed in action.”
After Reality Winner was arrested and jailed in 2017 for leaking classified information on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, she says she suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide. https://t.co/Yn8u5bcoIj pic.twitter.com/dXtLu7BHYc
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) December 6, 2021
Winner was arrested in 2017 and sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison for the leak following her guilty plea — the longest anyone has received for the federal crime of leaking classified information to the press.
It’s time to pardon Reality Winner. Who else agrees? #PardonRealityWinner
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) December 6, 2021
— Billie J. Winner-Davis (@bjwinnerdavis) December 5, 2021
Winner says in the profile that she saw the report confirming Russian interference in the election. At the time, it was a highly debated topic in the news, one that Donald Trump repeatedly denied. “I just kept thinking, ‘My God, somebody needs to step forward and put this right. Somebody,’ ” she said on 60 Minutes, later adding, “I knew it was secret, but I also knew that I had pledged service to the American people. And at that point in time, it felt like they were being led astray.”
If she were some flighty airhead, rather than a decorated airman, I would not have bothered. But Reality Winner is a person of substance
Reality Leigh Winner
60 Minutes pic.twitter.com/9RxY6ExR9a
— Sky in the Grass (@skyinthegrass) December 5, 2021
Winner went on to say that she “meant no harm” in leaking the document and “did not betray our sources and methods. Did not cause damage. Did not put lives on the line.”
If you can't pardon a patriot like Reality Winner, then nobody deserves a pardon.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) December 6, 2021
Watch Reality Winner’s full interview, below.