Reality Winner, a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower who was found guilty of leaking classified intelligence about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, is petitioning President Donald Trump for her early release from prison.
Alison Grinter, an attorney representing Winner, announced Monday at a press conference in Dallas that her legal team had submitted 4,500 letters of support to the federal office of the pardon attorney within the Department of Justice, the Guardian reported.
This is the branch that is responsible for advising the president on U.S. clemency or early release decisions.
A judge sentenced Winner to five years and eight months behind bars starting in August 2018 for violating the Espionage Act by slipping top secret documents to an investigative news website about the Russian hacking of local voting systems ahead of the 2016 election.
“Our country was attacked by a hostile foreign power,” The Intercept quoted Grinter as saying at the press conference.
Our national healing process cannot begin until we forgive our truth tellers and begin the job of rebuilding what was taken from us: election security, accountability for those who endeavor to undermine our democracy; and safeguarding the American right to government by and for the people. None of this can begin in earnest while we are still punishing those who tell us the truth.
The petition to Trump states that Winner’s imprisonment is “costly, unnecessary to protect the public, burdensome to her health and wellbeing, and not commensurate with the severity of her offense.”
The president commented on Winner’s sentencing in 2018, tweeting that Winner’s crimes were “‘small potatoes’ compared to what Hillary Clinton did,” and criticized then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Ex-NSA contractor to spend 63 months in jail over “classified” information. Gee, this is “small potatoes” compared to what Hillary Clinton did! So unfair Jeff, Double Standard.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2018
Winner told CBS News in a 2018 interview that she could not thank Trump enough for his tweet.
“I don’t like to assume anything as to what’s going on in his head, but the ‘small potatoes’ was a breath of fresh air,” she said. “It really made me laugh. It reminded me of me and my own family. We try to make a joke out of everything. We laugh every single day no matter how bad things get, and he really gave a whole sense of humor to the thing ’cause it is quite bizarre.”