****UPDATED ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 AT 5:00 P.M.****
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It took more than five hours for both federal government and defense lawyers to make their case for whether Reality Winner would be a flight risk if granted bond.
After the stint in Judge Brian Epps’ courtroom, Defense Attorney John Bell said a few brief words.
“I feel like I been in court all day,” he said.
Bell launched the defense’s argument for bond in the case of accused NSA leaker Reality Winner.
The Justice Department announced her arrest in June as The Intercept reported that it had obtained a classified report suggesting Russian hackers attacked a U.S. voting software supplier days before last year’s presidential election.
Bell began by stating that defendants in every other espionage case were granted pre-trial release, so Reality Winner should have the same right. But Winner will have to wait. Judge Epps announced he will issue a written detention ruling next week.
“There were some briefs that were just filed. If I were the judge I probably would want to read those all first and various [legal] documents,” Bell told news media following the bond hearing.
The federal government called a special agent in counter intelligence to testify as its one and only witness. Spec. Agent Justin Garrick, who works out of the Atlanta Field Office for the federal government, told the court he was first brief on Winner June 1 of this year. He said his briefing was that she released potentially classified information, an intelligence report and an attachment, that was top secret.
The government presented detailed exhibits of evidence they said prove Winner knowingly leaked those top secret documents to an online news agency. The government stated Winner researched information on social media about how to anonymously leak information and that she conducted several searches relating to the Taliban, including information on its spokesperson. With Garrick on the stand, the government discussed how it appeared as if Winner searched travel information for Middle Eastern areas, including looking into a work visa to relocate there.
The defense called two witnesses, Winner’s mother and sister.
Her sister, Brittany Winner, was called to the stand first. She described her younger sister as creative, smart, and caring with a witty sense of humor. The government presented conversations between the Winner sisters, both from Facebook and audio conversations. During one exchange, the government said Reality admitted to her sister, “No, I leaked a document and they were able to trace it back to me and it’s kind of important.” In another conversation about a polygraph test, lawyers said Reality responded, “#gonnafail” and her sister replied “LOL.” They also discussed Reality’s handwritten notes, with statements such as “I want to burn the White House down.” But Reality’s sister said the two have a sense of humor that is weird and they both make inappropriate jokes similar to saying “I had a bad day and I want to quit my job,” but you don’t really mean it.
The notes also had information about how to unlock your cell phone and switch the SIM card, to which Spec. Agent Garrick stated it appears Winner put together a covert communications package.
More evidence presented on behalf of the government included Winner making references to Bin Laden being like how Judas was to Jesus Christ.
While the government painted a picture of Winner being a danger and flight risk due to not being able to be trusted, the defense stressed Winner would not leave. Winner’s lawyers instead painted another picture. One that displayed her as a veteran with service in the Air Force for six years. They stated she won medals and was honorably discharged. Those same lawyers discussed how she expressed interest in going the Peace Corps and Doctors Without Borders because of her genuine love for people. It was said that she sympathized with those in Afghanistan and the Syrian Refugees.
Reality Winner’s mother, Billie Winner Davis, spoke too. Letting the court know she took early retirement and relocated from Texas to Winner’s home in Augusta.
Upon leaving the court, she told media, “No, we’re just hoping for the best.”
The judge did not give a date for when that written ruling would come down. But count on NewsChannel 6 to stay on this story for you.Photojournalists: Mark Gaskins & Gary Hipps
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – NewsChannel 6 has learned that the judge presiding over accused NSA leaker Reality Winner’s bond hearing will issue a ruling next week.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The woman accused of leaking top secret NSA information will be back in federal court Friday.
Reality Winner’s attorneys have filed a motion for another bond hearing.
They say she is entitled to pre-trial bond because what the government said at a recent detention hearing turned out to be false, incorrect or unsubstantiated.
They’re also arguing that Winner should be allowed to live in Augusta with her mother until her trial.
Meanwhile prosecutors are hoping to keep Winner in jail.
They filed new documents with the court, including transcripts of Winner’s interviews with FBI agents.
According to those transcripts, she told agents she was frustrated with her job when she hid the classified report in her pantyhose and took it out of the NSA office.
The transcript also indicates winner told FBI agents, “Yeah, I screwed up royally.”
That hearing is Friday at 10 a.m.