Accused leaker Reality Winner broke her word and betrayed her country, authorities say. But according to prosecutors, Winner plans to escape punishment for the alleged crimes because she says she’s “pretty, white and cute.”
The 25-year-old is about to learn a harsh lesson about justice.
A federal judge ordered Winner, who is charged with leaking classified U.S. documents, to remain jailed until her trial after prosecutors argued she might possess more stolen government secrets.
Prosecutors also said Thursday that Winner might try to flee the U.S. if released on bond. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari told the judge Winner had written in a notebook: “I want to burn the White House Down … find somewhere in Kurdistan to live. Ha-ha!”
“They added that Winner wrote in her notebook alleged plans to … travel to Afghanistan and pledge her allegiance to the Taliban,” Fox News reported. “Winner also called her mother while in jail and coached her on what tell the media, urging her to say that her daughter was ‘scared.'”
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Wearing an orange jumpsuit and leg shackles, Winner pleaded not guilty in U.S. district court to charges that she illegally retained and transmitted national defense information. The federal crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if she’s convicted.
The former Air Force linguist, who speaks Arabic and Farsi and had a top-secret security clearance, was working as a government contractor in Augusta when illegal stole and mailed a classified report containing top-secret material to a liberal news organization, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors warned U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps that Winner might have more stolen secrets. Solari said investigators have learned Winner inserted a portable hard drive in a top-secret Air Force computer before she left the military last year. She said authorities don’t know what happened to the drive or what was on it.
Solari said Winner’s laptop also contained software that could enable her to access online black-markets and buy items – such as a fake ID or passport – without revealing her identity or location.
“We don’t know how much more she knows and how much more she remembers,” Solari said. “But we do know she’s very intelligent. So she’s got a lot of valuable information in her head.”
Winner’s mother and stepfather told the judge she had no criminal history and they would use their 20-acre home in Kingsville, Texas, to finance her bond with confidence she would never run.
Solari argued that Winner isn’t the innocent young woman her parents believe her to be. She said that during one of her jailhouse phone calls, which were recorded, Winner said she planned to “play that card: being pretty, white and cute” to help her avoid punishment for her alleged crimes.
The judge said he was worried about what happened to the portable hard drive prosecutors mentioned, as well as references Winner had made in her notebook about the Middle East. He also mentioned her written comment about burning the White House.
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An FBI affidavit says Winner confessed to copying and mailing the classified report when agents searched her home last Saturday. They seized items including cellphones, computers and Winner’s passport.
Solari said Winner also confessed to her mother during a recorded jailhouse phone call, saying: “Mom, those documents. I screwed up.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article