Gary Davis, stepfather of Reality Leigh Winner, says the depiction of Winner through social media is not an “an accurate portrayal of my daughter." Winner, who lives in Augusta, Ga., is accused of leaking national security information on Russia hacking to the online publication The Intercept. (Hyosub Shin / HShin@ajc.com)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Exclusive: Accused NSA leaker’s stepdad: ‘She is a patriot’

The depiction of accused leaker Reality Leigh Winner through social media is not an “an accurate portrayal of my daughter,” Gary Davis, Winner’s stepfather, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

In a brief interview, Davis said his daughter served her nation with distinction as an Air Force linguist. He said she speaks Arabic and Farsi and has training in other Middle Eastern languages.

“She’s a veteran, six years’ service of the Air Force,” he said. “She received commendations during that time. She’s just a passionate young woman who probably made some mistakes.”

Davis, who appeared shaken and was hesitant to talk to the press, said he and Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, were still “trying to get a grasp” of what’s happened. They plan to meet with Winner’s attorney later today.

Related: Augusta contractor charged with mishandling top-secret U.S. materials 
Related: Who is Reality Leigh Winner, the alleged NSA leaker?

Related: Federal contractor charged in leak case aired views on social media

Federal Contractor Arrested For Leaking ‘Top Secret’ Russia Document

“She served her country and you can respect that,” Davis said. “You may not agree with her politics but she is a patriot.”

“The person they are portraying in the media is an invention,” he said. “It’s their take on what little they know about.”

Davis said he’s not certain that the Twitter account cited in press reports  actually belongs to Winner, although it uses her photograph. 

Winner lives on Battle Row in a poorer stretch of Augusta near John C. Calhoun Expressway, just a few miles east of The Augusta National Golf Club. Around her small brick home are many tired looking bungalows with metal roofs, some boarded up.
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