Leaker of report on Russian hacking gets 5 years

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A former government contractor sentenced to more than five years in prison for mailing a classified U.S. report to a news organization has received what prosecutors are calling the longest sentence ever imposed for a federal crime involving leaks to the media.

Reality Winner, 26, pleaded guilty in June to a single count of transmitting national security information. The sentence handed down Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall was in line with a plea agreement between Winner’s defense team and prosecutors, who recommended she serve five years and three months behind bars.

The former Air Force translator had worked as a contractor at a National Security Agency’s office in Augusta, Georgia, when she printed a classified report and left the building with it tucked into her pantyhose. Winner told the FBI she mailed the document to an online news outlet.

Wearing an orange jail uniform and shackles in court, Winner said Thursday that she took responsibility for her actions. She said she had made “an undeniable mistake.”

“I would like to apologize profusely for my actions,” she told the judge. “My actions were a cruel betrayal of my nation’s trust in me.”

Authorities never identified the news organization. But the Justice Department announced Winner’s June 2017 arrest the same day The Intercept reported on a secret NSA document. It detailed Russian government efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software and the accounts of election officials ahead of the 2016 presidential election.