And her prize is … more than five years behind bars.
The former National Security Agency contractor named Reality Winner, who leaked a top-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, was sentenced Thursday to 63 months in prison — a record-setting punishment for such a crime.
Winner copped to one count of transmitting national security information as part of a plea deal hammered out with prosecutors in June.
The 26-year-old worked as a translator at the NSA’s office in Augusta, Georgia, on May 5, 2017, when she printed a classified report about Russian meddling and went home with it tucked into her pantyhose.
She told the FBI she mailed the report to an online news outlet, which was never identified by authorities. But the same day she was arrested that June, The Intercept reported on an NSA document that detailed the Russian government’s efforts to hack voting software ahead of the election.
In court, Winner’s lawyer said she was a good person who suffered from bulimia and depression.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and with her hair down, Winner took responsibility for “an undeniable mistake that I made.”
“I would like to apologize profusely for my actions,” she told Judge J. Randal Hall in federal court in Augusta. “… My actions were a cruel betrayal of my nation’s trust in me.”
She faced as much as 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine — but Hall sentenced her to 63 months and three years of supervised release.
Prosecutors, who had asked for 63 months, said the sentence was the longest ever given for a federal crime involving a leak of classified material to the media.
“She was the quintessential example of an insider threat,” Bobby Christine, the top federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Georgia, told reporters.
Winner, who has been locked up without bail for the past year, railed on social media against President Trump, whom she called a “soulless ginger orangutan,” three months before her arrest.
She also expressed her desire to “burn the White House Down” and said, “Look, I only say I hate America like 3 times a day.”
Raised in Kingsville, Texas, Winner enlisted in the Air Force, where she served as a translator, speaking Farsi and Arabic. She provided real-time translations to Americans conducting field missions.
After leaving the military, she moved to Augusta and worked as a civilian contractor for the NSA, translating documents from Farsi to English for the agency.
Prior to Thursday, the stiffest sentenced meted out for leaking classified information was three years and seven months for FBI explosives expert Donald Sachtleben. He slipped intelligence to the Associated Press for a story about a US operation in Yemen in 2012.
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