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Ex-contractor in leak case wants FBI admission suppressed

Alleged leaker Reality Winner (pictured), 25, has asked for an alleged admission of guilt to be declared inadmissible at her trial. Her lawyer says she hadn’t heard her Miranda rights before the interview 

Reality Winner, the former government contractor accused of leaking classified information, has asked to have comments she made to the FBI stricken from the record.

Winner, 25, told the FBI in her initial interview that she had leaked documents about Russian hacks on the US presidential elections, according to the complaint made against her.

But on Wednesday the ex-Air Force linguist said those remarks were made before she was read her Miranda rights – making them inadmissible in court.

Winner made the apparently incriminating remarks in a June interview with FBI agents who served a search warrant at her apartment in August, Georgia, according to prosecutors.

They say she admitted to leaking documents to The Intercept showing that the NSA was investigating hacks by Russians on 122 electoral officers prior to the presidential election. 

But her lawyer argues that since those remarks were made prior to her being Mirandized – which involves being told of the right to remain silent – they cannot be used in court.

Winner was not present in court when her attorney spoke on her behalf. 

Also on Wednesday, it was agreed upon by the judge that Winner’s trial should be rescheduled from a tentative October 23 date to March, The Augusta Chronicle reported.

Though reluctant, US Magistrate Judge Brian K Epps said that the defense could have more time to prepare as they were awaiting the security clearance that would let them see documents relevant to the case.

They will now have until November to file their early defense documents. Moving the trial date again would require ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ the judge said. 

It was decided on August 17 that Winner and her lawyers would be allowed to review the classified information prepared by prosecutors.

Epps ruled that she could face further charges if she revealed any of the classified information included in the discovery files in her case, the Chronicle reported.

Those documents are expected to include intelligence reporting, network audit logs of the US government agency, FBI interview reports, including Winner’s own interview, and correspondence of contractors from May 24 to June 1. 

And further back, on August 4, Epps ruled that her defense team would be stopped from talking about the classified information related to the case.

They cannot discuss anything deemed classified by the government, even if it has been widely reported in local, national and international media publications.

Winner, who has been held in jail without bail since June 3, was working for National Security Agency contractor Pluribus at Fort Gordon when she allegedly transmitted the documents. 

She has pleaded not guilty to one count of  willful retention and transmission of national defense information.

If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 


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