Two additional attorneys have joined Reality Leigh Winner’s defense team in the espionage prosecution in U.S. District Court in Augusta.
U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Brian K. Epps granted Joe Dally Whitley and Matthew Scott Chester permission to to be admitted to practice in the Southern District of Georgia to help defend Winner, 25.
Winner has pleaded not guilty to a single count of willful retention and transmission of national defense information. She is accused of copying a secret document while at work for National Security Agency contractor Pluribus at Fort Gordon and sending it anonymously to online news publication The Intercept. She has been held without bond since her arrest June 3.
Two days later, The Intercept published an in-depth article about a NSA analysis of Russia’s attempts to meddle in the presidential election, a subject now under scrutiny by the Senate and House intelligence committees and a special prosecutor investigating possible collusion between Russia and people supportive of Trump’s campaign.
A tentative trial date for Winner is the week of Oct. 23.
The newest members of the defense team are both former federal prosecutors with the national law firm Baker Donelson.
Whitley of Atlanta served in the Department of Justice under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, serving as the acting associate attorney general, the number three position at the DOJ for a time. After 9/11, George W. Bush selected Whitley to serve as the first general counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Whitley also previously served as the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia. At Baker Donelson, Whitley specializes in complex civil and criminal cases, according to the firm’s website.
Chester works in the Baker Donelson office in New Orleans. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the New Orleans office where he prosecuted white collar crimes and public corruption cases.
In 2015, he was awarded the Department of Justice’s Superior Performance in Litigation award for his work on the prosecution team that helped convict New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin of charges that included bribery, wire fraud and tax evasion. Nagin is serving a 10-year prison term. Chester now also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Tulane University School of Law where he graduated cum laude in 2004.
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