Last week, a private contractor working in the intelligence community was charged with leaking classified NSA documents to The Intercept and was arrested. While it is important to note that she is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the Lucy Parsons Labs is alarmed at her treatment at the hands of the U.S. Government. She has been denied bail before her trial, which creates a significant barrier for her to mount a viable defense. We have seen this tactic used before, most notably in the case of Jeremy Hammond. Edward Snowden, who himself has been charged under the Espionage Act like Reality Winner, writes for the Freedom of the Press Foundation:
"No matter one's opinions on the propriety of the charges against her, we should all agree Winner should be released on bail pending trial. Even if you take all the government allegations as true, it's clear she is neither a threat to public safety nor a flight risk. To hold a citizen incommunicado and indefinitely while awaiting trial for the alleged crime of serving as a journalistic source should outrage us all."
While it is important to note that the news organization she is accused of leaking to is not named by authorities, there is widespread reports that the documents relate to hacking into election systems which is a story that is strongly in the public interest to disclose. Therefore, Lucy Parsons Labs believes that all organizations who work in the sphere of public transparency and journalism must stand together in her defense. We strongly believe in the public’s right to leak documents anonymously and are dismayed at her treatment.
The Courage Foundation has launched an emergency appeal on her behalf; please consider making a donation. Naomi Colvin who is the Beneficiary Case Director at Courage Foundation writes:
It was only a matter of time before the Trump Administration brought the full force of an Espionage Act prosecution against someone who isn’t sufficiently high-ranking to leak with impunity. Reality Winner is pleading not guilty and recent history suggests she can expect to incur significant legal costs. Public support will as be vital in her case as it has been for Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.
We thank the Courage Foundation for their work advocating for Reality Winner. As noted by Jason Leopold, it seems that this only the first of many leak prosecutions we are going to see from the Department of Justice under the current regime. Unfortunately, this a historical trend that was set under the Obama administration which we should expect to continue to see. We invite you to listen to the DeleteUrAcct podcast, our Director was recently on it to discuss this case and the implication for press freedom.