Prosecutors seek specialized court procedures in Reality Winner espionage case

Prosecutors in the espionage case against Reality Winner have petitioned the court to proceed under the Classified Information Protective Act of 1980.


Winner is under indictment on a charge of willful retention and transmission of national defense information. She is suspected of leaking a classified document about Russia’s efforts to influence last fall’s presidential election.

FULL COVERAGE: Reality Winner case

A classified document about Russian military intelligence hacking into a software company and sending infected emails to more than 100 local election officials was published by The Intercept website.

Winner, a 25-year-old Air Force veteran, was hired by Pluribus, a national security contractor at Fort Gordon, in February. She is accused of using a top security clearance to take a classified document from her office last month. She was arrested June 3 as federal agents searched her Battle Row rental home.

Winner has been held without bond since her arrest.

On Monday, federal prosecutors filed the motion asking the court to proceed under the Classified Information Protective Act. According to the motion, the law was enacted to set the procedure to allow the government to protect national security while protecting a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

The law allows the government to withhold classified information if it is not relevant to the case, nor helpful to the defense, nor essential for a fair trial, according to the motion.

The federal prosecutors would submit such information to the judge in ex-parte hearings (in which only one side participates) in the judge’s chambers. They would have to prove to the judge that the information must be withheld for national security.

If the information is considered essential for disclosure, the prosecutors may seek to substitute or summarize the classified information, according to the motion.

The defense also has the right to present the judge with its own document to outline the theory of defense to help the judge decide about classified information. The defense can submit its information ex-parte, too.

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