AUGUSTA --- Her job was within the hidden machinery of the nation’s spy craft, making her a cog in the U.S. government’s signals intelligence system. But on social media it seems, Reality Leigh Winner’s life was an open book.
In the hours after Winner’s arrest on charges she leaked classified material, the media and members of the public scoured her digital life. The 25-year-old Air Force veteran, like many in her social media-fluid generation, left these accounts public for the world to see despite possessing top-secret security clearance.
On Facebook and Instagram, Winner documented her pets, travels to Belize and to her adopted home of Baltimore, her hours in the gym, vegan meals, concerts and the apparent recent death of her dad. On a Twitter account she appeared to control, she laid bare her liberal political views and the raw emotion she felt over the election of Donald Trump as president.
Tweeting at Trump after comments he made about refugees being a danger, Winner, under the handle @reezlie, wrote: “the most dangerous entry to this country was the orange fascist we let into the white house (sic).”
Her stepfather, Gary Davis, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday that he’s not certain the Twitter account cited in press reports actually belongs to Winner, although it uses her photograph.
“She’s a veteran, six years’ service of the Air Force,” Davis said. “She received commendations during that time. She’s just a passionate young woman who probably made some mistakes.”
Her social media feeds show forceful views on climate change, refugees, the war in Syria and her distinct dislike of Trump and his policies. She also showed support for the citizens of one of the nation’s top adversaries.
In February, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran would be “unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people. We’ll never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense.”
Winner replied: “There are many Americans protesting US govt aggression towards Iran. If our Tangerine in Chief declares war, we stand with you!”
Trump supporters took to Winner’s social media pages, leaving comments calling her a traitor, mocking her parents and fantasizing what will happen to her if she goes to prison.
Winner’s arrest marks the first criminal leak case under President Trump. Court documents say she admitted to printing out and mailing top secret documents to an undisclosed media outlet — apparently the online outlet The Intercept.
One of her most recent posts reflected a loss in her life. Above a photo of her sitting pensively in front of a Mayan pyramid in Belize, she wrote, “There is nothing that can fix the hole in my heart that you left behind. I still don’t know who I am without you here or how to keep moving forward without the one person who believed unconditionally in everything I want to do in life.
“I miss you, Dad,” Winner wrote.
Hours later, a friend posted, “I have no doubt he is watching over you and your sister.”
But on Monday, a Trump supporter posted, “Poor dad would sure be disappointed if he knew you were a Traitor. Don’t worry you’ll make new friends in Prison.”
Among the insults, there were some messages posted in her defense. One: “Realize Reality had a clearance for a few years prior …Only since Trump became President did she act. Hero!”
Another: “Keep fighting the good fight young lady, you have my support. In a non material way, granted, but you do have my genuine support …”
But the comments in the hours after her arrest were overwhelmingly negative.
In December, Winner posted about an apparent visit with her mother, Billie Winner-Davis. Her mother wrote, “My baby girl is home!!!”
On Monday, someone added, “Sadly she won’t be home again for a LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG time.”
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