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NSA Contractor From South Texas Accused of Leaking Russia Intelligence Report


Reality Leigh Winner, 25, reacted the same way as a lot of young people nauseated by Donald Trump's rise to the White House: She started trolling him on social media. "Hey @realDonaldTrump as president do you promise to find a better word than 'bigly?'" she tweeted at him late last October. Her November 8, 2016 tweet was one of blunt disappointment — "Well. People suck. #ElectionNight." Later that month, she mused, "Why burn a flag? @realDonaldTrump thinks crosses burn much better." A tweet days after Trump's inauguration in January simply read "#TrumpIsACunt". She later called him "our Tangerine in Chief."

The feds now claim Winner's acts of resistance went well beyond critical social media posting. On Monday, right around the time national security watchdog website The Intercept published a classified intelligence report detailing Russian attempts to screw with American elections (including attempts to hack widely-used voter registration software and more than 100 local elections officials across the country), the U.S. Justice Department announced that Winner, a former Air Force linguist who was raised in the small South Texas town of Kingsville, had been arrested as the Trump administration's first prosecution of someone under the century-old Espionage Act.

Winner's social media profiles (her Facebook page was taken down on Tuesday) show a socially-conscious twenty-something who loved to post photos of her pets and weightlifting sessions in between calls for solidarity with Dakota Access pipeline protesters and action on everything from climate change to police reform. The New York Times reports that Winner became a contractor with the National Security Agency earlier this year after leaving the Air Force, moving to Georgia to work out of a government eavesdropping center there. The feds claim that on May 9, Winner printed out a top-secret NSA report detailing targeted hacks by Russian intelligence on American voting systems and officials, took it outside the secure complex and then mailed it to an Intercept reporter days later.

Winner had a short court appearance Tuesday and was being held at a jail northwest of Augusta, Georgia. Gary Davis, her stepfather who traveled with family from Texas to Georgia to attend her court hearings, told the Times that the charges are "totally out of left field" for the family. Davis called Winner “a good kid” with “a great big heart” who followed her older sibling into the Air Force. Meanwhile, Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, told the Guardian newspaper, “I never thought this would be something she would do. ... She’s expressed to me that she’s not a fan of Trump, but she’s not someone that goes and riots and pickets or stuff.” (Our attempts to reach reach Winner's family Tuesday were unsuccessful).

Winner's Instagram profile shows she took a trip to Belize sometime before her arrest this week. This appears to be her last selfie:

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