Ex-Contractor in Leak Case Wants FBI Admission Suppressed
SAVANNAH, Ga. — A young woman charged with leaking classified U.S. documents has asked a federal judge to rule that comments she made to FBI agents before her arrest can't be used as evidence.
Reality Winner, a former Air Force linguist who held a top-secret security clearance, worked as a government contractor in Augusta, Georgia, until she was charged with copying a classified report and mailing it to an online news organization.
The criminal complaint filed June 5 in U.S. District Court says Winner admitted to leaking the documents when she was questioned by FBI agents serving a search warrant at her apartment.
Winner's defense attorneys filed a court motion Tuesday asking the judge to suppress any comments she made to the FBI in that interview because agents never read Winner her Miranda rights.
Though she had not yet been formally arrested, Winner's attorneys said, she had every reason to believe she was in custody as she was questioned in a room of her apartment by two agents standing in front of the door.
"Winner was never told she was free to leave, nor was she advised as to her arrest status," Winner's attorneys wrote. "Indeed, when she specifically asked whether she was under arrest, the agents told her they did not know the answer to that 'yet.'"
Prosecutors had not filed any reply to the defense motion Wednesday, and there was no ruling from the judge.
Meanwhile, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps agreed during a status hearing Wednesday to postpone Winner's trial, which had been scheduled to start in October.
Epps rescheduled the case for March after Winner's attorneys said newer members of the defense team were still waiting to obtain national security clearances so they could examine classified documents related to the case, The Augusta Chronicle reported.
Authorities haven't described the classified report Winner is accused of leaking or named the news outlet that received it. But the Justice Department announced Winner's arrest on the same day The Intercept reported it had obtained a classified National Security Agency report suggesting Russian hackers attacked a U.S. voting software supplier before last year's presidential election. The NSA report was dated May 5, the same as the document Winner is charged with leaking.
Winner has pleaded not guilty to charges that she illegally retained and transmitted national defense information. The federal crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if she's convicted.
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