Federal agents who raided the Augusta home of the woman suspected of leaking a classified document to an online news media outfit took electronic devices and Reality Leigh Winner’s passport.
According to a court document filed Tuesday evening, agents took four phones, two laptops and an Amazon tablet when Winner’s home in the 1900 block of Battle Row was searched Saturday.
Federal investigators responding to information from a reporter with The Intercept last month focused their search on employees at Pluribus International Corp. in Augusta. Six employees had access to the document – a detailed account of how Russian military intelligence attacked a U.S. voting software company and spear-phished emails to more than 100 local election officials. Winner was the only employee found to have corresponded to a media company on her office computer.
Winner reportedly told federal agents she mailed the classified document to the undivulged media outlet, according to court documents. She was taken into custody Saturday and was formally charged Monday with the crime of gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.
A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Federal prosecutors want Winner held without bond. Augusta area attorney Titus Nichols was initially appointed to represent Winner at her initial appearance on Monday. He said Wednesday he has now been retained.
Winner should be released on bond, Nichols will argue. All of her electronic devices have been seized, she no longer has access to any National Security Agency information, and her passport was seized, he said. She won’t be able to go anywhere without being recognized, Nichols said.
As a former prosecutor with the Augusta Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office, Nichols said he understood a prosecutor’s desire to oppose bond to ensure a defendant doesn’t do anything criminal or dangerous. But with no prior history, that can’t be said of Winner.
Winner had top security clearance from her time serving in the Air Force for six years. She started at Pluribus in February.
In addition to the electronics, federal agents took from Winner’s home a country handbook on Iran, a nondisclosure agreement, two spiral notebooks and pieces of paper with notes, mail addressed to Winner and a Georgia Power bill.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.