The mother and stepfather of the NSA contractor who reportedly admitted to the FBI she leaked classified information from the Trump administration say their daughter is a “patriot.”
“I know that she’s scared. She is scared that they won’t let her out,” said mother Billie-Jean Davis, according to CBS. “Her words to me were that she was really scared that they would make her disappear.”
Reality Winner, the 25-year-old Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders supporter, was arrested Saturday and is being charged specifically for stealing “Top Secret” documents from the NSA and relaying it to online publication The Intercept.
She will be the first defendant in a criminal leak case under the Trump administration, which has seemingly suffered from a number of such incidences in just roughly five months.
Winner’s court-appointed legal representation, Titus Nichols, says that she plans on entering a not guilty plea, reports CBS, despite the U.S. Department of Justice’s press release detailing that she “admitted” to the crimes.
“We have the burden of showing that my client is not a risk of committing new offenses, that she’s not a risk of fleeing,” Nichols said, alluding to his intention to have her released before the trial begins.
Winner was likely caught due to some apparent oversights in The Intercept’s source verification process. The news outlet reportedly reached out to the NSA and showed them the highly classified documents it received from Winner to make sure they were authentic and wouldn’t severely compromise national security.
In the process, the intelligence agency noticed that the reports “appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space,” according to the official legal complaint.
Officials were likely then able to pinpoint Winner by deciphering and decoding several other inconspicuous signals within the published sensitive files, particularly certain yellow dots that are almost impossible to see on color-printed paper. Somewhat technologically proficient people, especially officials within the intelligence community like the NSA, are able to analyze the configuration of the extremely faint marks and precisely determine when and where the documents were printed, according to Robert Graham, a cybersecurity expert.
After authorities determined the model and serial numbers of the printer that produced the secret documents, as well as the date and time of the printing, they were able to arrest Winner.
“I’m terrified. I’m terrified that she’s not going to be treated fairly and that they’re going to try to make an example of her and that’s not fair. Sorry,” a crying Billie-Jean said, according to CBS.
Winner’s stepfather, Gary Davis, agrees, saying he worries she won’t be seen in a positive light.
“She’s a patriot. She served her nation with distinguished honor,” Gary said, CBS reports. “And that’s who Reality Winner is. It’s not the person that’s being portrayed. She is a winner. She’s our winner.”