A federal appeals court has affirmed the decision to deny bond to the former Fort Gordon contractor accused of leaking a classified document.
In the Jan. 31 opinion, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal found the magistrate and district court judge in Augusta did not err in finding Reality Leigh Winner could post a fight risk.
Winner, 25, has been jailed since her arrest June 3. She has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of violating the federal Espionage Act by allegedly giving a classified document to a news organization.
Winner began working for the national security contractor Pluribus International at Fort Gordon in February. She is accused of downloading a classified document on May 9 and mailing it to the online publication The Intercept the next day.
While the government maintains the document is secret, The Intercept published a report about an analysis of Russians attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The subject is being investigated by the U.S. Senate and House intelligence committees, and a special prosecutor who is examining possible collusion between supporters of then presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian operatives.
Winner, a six-year veteran of the Air Force, was denied bond in October. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall affirmed in December the magistrate’s denial of bond. Winner’s attorneys appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeals court found Hall did not err in reaching the decision that Winner should be detained pending trial, which is set for March 18. The appellate court noted four issues – the seriousness of the charge, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison; the apparent strength of the prosecution’s case; Winner’s alleged disdain for the U.S. government; and evidence of Winner’s interest and ability to live in the Middle East.
“Given the evidence summarized above, the district court did not err in finding by a preponderance that Ms. Winner is a flight risk and that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure her appearance.
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