Statement on Reality Leigh Winner’s release from prison to a halfway house

Posted June 14, 2021, 8:25 PM

This statement can be attributed to Lia Holland (she/they), Campaigns and Communications Director at Fight for the Future:

Last week, someone blew the whistle on Trump’s DOJ spying on Democratic lawmakers like Representative Adam Schiff. That person is being celebrated as a whistleblower who helped bring integrity and transparency to government. How hypocritical that instead of being immediately pardoned, election integrity whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner is just now moving to a halfway house after 4 years in prison.

Reality Leigh Winner blew the whistle on election vulnerabilities in 2016, but because her disclosures benefitted the people, not powerful Democrats, she’s only just now in transition out of prison. Of course, it’s great Reality Leigh Winner is getting closer to freedom based on her own good behavior in prison—but she doesn’t need to be in a halfway house, and she definitely doesn’t deserve to bear an Espionage Act conviction for the rest of her life. She’s a hero, not a criminal.

The Trump administration’s choice to hide critical election hacking info from the public and elections companies endangered democracy, civil liberties, and human rights. Reality Leigh Winner’s leaks were instrumental in a Congressional investigation into 2016 election interference, and helped make the 2020 election the most secure election in the history of our country.

The response to another whistleblower revealing Trump-era transgressions against democracy—this time that Trump spied on Democratic leaders and their families—could not sit in starker contrast to the way Reality Leigh Winner has been treated. Trump’s DOJ never should have spied on lawmakers. The only reason we know it happened is because a whistleblower risked everything to tell the public, despite what happened to Reality Leigh Winner when she did the same. 

Whistleblowers perform a public service. We call for the immediate pardon of  Reality Leigh Winner and her immediate release to her family and the freedom she helped to protect with her brave disclosures. The Biden administration must do the right thing and roll back the US’s penchant for punishing government whistleblowers. Telling the truth is not a crime.

Sign the petition to #FreeRealityWinner now at fftf.link/pardon-reality

Read more about Reality’s release here: https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/14/22533366/reality-winner-prison-release-halfway-house-espionage-sentence