Accused NSA leaker ‘is a patriot,’ stepdad says

This photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. The NSA is accusing a 25-year-old woman of leaking classified information to the news media. Reality Leigh Winner was arrested Monday and charged with ‘gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.’
Caption
This photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. The NSA is accusing a 25-year-old woman of leaking classified information to the news media. Reality Leigh Winner was arrested Monday and charged with ‘gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.’

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

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.

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"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.

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

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Reality Leigh Winner has been charged with leaking top-secret NSA material on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to the news media. If convicted on the charge, she could face up to 10 years behind bars.

Reality Leigh Winner has been charged with leaking top-secret NSA material on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to the news media. If convicted on the charge, she could face up to 10 years behind bars.
Caption
Reality Leigh Winner has been charged with leaking top-secret NSA material on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to the news media. If convicted on the charge, she could face up to 10 years behind bars.

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

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

Winner, 25, was arrested Monday and is charged with leaking a classified NSA report about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to the news media.

If convicted of a charge of “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information, Winner could face up to 10 years in prison, according to court records.