The prosecutors in Reality Winner’s espionage case asked the judge Tuesday to sign a protective order that prevents the defense from revealing any classified information regardless of the possible publication of such information by the media.
Winner, 25, has pleaded not guilty to a single count of willful retention and transmission of national defense information. She had been held without bond since her June 3 arrest, which followed the government’s investigation of the possible leak of a classified document to online media site The Intercept. Winner has top security clearance and worked at Fort Gordon for the National Security Agency contractor Pluribus.
The Intercept reportedly began the investigation when a reporter for the site contacted a government official about a classified document concerning Russian intelligence attempts to influence last year’s presidential election. The Intercept published an extensive report on Russia’s tampering efforts, information published by many other media companies in reports about Winner’s arrest and prosecution.
The federal prosecutors in Winner’s case contend in court documents and in court that the central document Winner is accused of leaking is still classified. Only the executive branch of government can declassify a document, according to the motion filed Tuesday.
Winner’s defense attorney balked at signing a protective order on June 27. The defense asked that any proposed order not prohibit the attorneys from discussing information gained from unclassified sources just because the same information is contained in classified documents.
In the prosecutors’ motion filed Tuesday, they propose that the protective order state that there is no violation if the defense didn’t know or could not have reasonably known that such information was classified based on the discovery provided by the prosecution. The prosecutors noted that their security clearance and access to classified information comes with the obligation to protect it their entire lives.
The protective order in question is part of the Classified Information Protection Act. The law seeks to balance a defendant’s right to access all information the prosecution intends to use with the government’s right to protect national security.
Winner’s trial is tentatively set to begin the week of Oct. 23.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or email@example.com.