National Security Agency whistleblower Reality Winner has tested positive for coronavirus and fears she’ll die inside the Texas federal prison, where she’s serving a five-year sentence, it’s been reported.
“Reality is concerned she’s going to die in there. Her concern before was she would test positive, which she just did and now she is concerned that she is going to get sick and they are not going to be able to do anything to help her,” her sister Brittany said in an interview.
Two inmates have already died from the deadly virus at the controversial federal lockup, which is the subject of complaints about unsanitary conditions. Winner has also alleged guards at the prison mock inmates who are infected with the virus.
“The officer went out of her way to come to my room and say, ‘I just wanted to congratulate you on your positive results’,” she wrote in a letter to her sister.
“They’re all sitting together in a concrete room facing the real possibility of dying hundreds of miles away from their family. That’s a shared experience that’s terrifying,” Dallas civil rights attorney Alison Grinter said.
She added Winner is “medically vulnerable” as she suffers from bronchial problems and has struggled with bulimia.
Winner was the first person charged under the Espionage Act by the Trump administration. She was working as an analyst with a defense contractor, and leaked classified documents to journalists at The Intercept that allegedly revealed Russian military intelligence agency GRU hacked into US voting software prior to the election.
While The Intercept’s reporting produced a frenzy of interest in the mainstream media, and invoked as definitive proof of the Russian government’s attempts to influence the result of the 2016 Presidential election, the document is far more anodyne, the NSA’s internal assessment of a malicious ‘spearphishing’ email directed at a voting software company, which was unsuccessful. The assessment makes clear this attempt wasn’t successful, and the conclusion it was “probably” the work of the GRU is the view of a single agency analyst.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) May 20, 2020
Winner was “burnt” by The Intercept when the reporters behind the story disclosed sensitive information to US government agencies upon request, which led to her eventual identification.
Strikingly, two of the journalists involved, Richard Esposito and Matthew Cole, played an integral role in the arrest and imprisonment of another source, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, years before they worked with The Intercept – and it wasn’t the first time leaking to the media outlet has landed people in jail.
— John Kiriakou (@JohnKiriakou) May 10, 2019
In 2018, former FBI agent Terry Albury was sentenced to four years in prison, after he leaked documents to the website exposing the agency’s racism and anti-Muslim surveillance practices.
Then, in May 2019, former NSA official Daniel Hale was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly leaking documents to the outlet – he faces up to 50 years in prison.