The 25-year-old woman accused of leaking top-secret material after an online news website published a classified NSA report is a contractor for Pluribus International Corp. with top secret security clearance, federal authorities say.
Reality Leigh Winner was a linguist in the Air Force who speaks Pashto and Farsi, her mother says. Billie Winner told CNN her daughter was raised in Kingsville, Texas, and was a federal contractor in Georgia — but said she did not know if she had contracted for the NSA.
"She's trying to be brave for me," Billie Winner said. "I don't think she's seeing a light at the end of the tunnel."
She described her daughter as an athlete who loves animals but isn't especially political and expressed empathy for Edward Snowden or others accused of leaking classified documents.
“She’s never ever given me any kind of indication that she was in favor of that at all,” her mother told CNN. “I don’t know how to explain it.”
Reality Winner’s attorney, Titus Thomas Nichols, said she didn't enter a plea at her initial appearance Monday and faces a detention hearing Thursday.
Court documents outlining the charges against Winner do not specifically cite the NSA report leaked by The Intercept. Nichols declined to confirm to the Associated Press that the charges involve the report. Nichols also declined to name the federal agency Winner was working for under contract.
“My client has no (criminal) history, so it’s not as if she has a pattern of having done anything like this before,” Nichols told AP. “She is a very good person. All this craziness has happened all of a sudden.”