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Reality Winner, jailed for leaking secrets about Russian hacking, asks Trump for clemency

"She was nobody, and they used her for a patsy and an example," her stepfather said of Winner's sentence.
Image: Reality Winner arrives at a courthouse in Augusta, Georgia
Reality Winner arrives at a courthouse in Augusta, Georgia, on Aug. 23, 2018, two months after she pleaded guilty to copying a classified U.S. report and mailing it to a news organization.Michael Holahan / The Augusta Chronicle via AP file

Lawyers for Reality Winner, the former National Security Agency contractor who was sentenced to more than five years in prison for leaking classified information about Russian hacking, are seeking clemency from President Donald Trump.

Winner, 28, was sentenced in 2018 after she leaked U.S. secrets about Russia's attempts to hack the 2016 presidential election to the news outlet The Intercept. The sentence was the longest ever at the time for a federal crime involving leaks to the media. Winner pleaded guilty to leaking a classified report that detailed the Russian government's efforts to penetrate a Florida-based voting software supplier.

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At the news conference Monday, Winner's attorneys said they filed a formal petition for commutation with the Justice Department, saying Winner had "suffered enough" and calling on the president to "do the right thing." Winner's family hopes that she will be pardoned or granted clemency and that Trump will show her mercy.

Trump has previously criticized Winner's sentence, calling it "so unfair" and criticizing the Justice Department for pursuing the sentence. "Gee, this is 'small potatoes' compared to what Hillary Clinton did," the president wrote on Twitter in 2018.

Billie Winner-Davis, Winner's mother, said her daughter's health and well-being are at stake while she remains in prison, adding that Winner is "losing hope."

"Reality is not receiving any kind of treatment or care for her anxiety or her bulimia," Winner-Davis said. "Every day that passes, I feel like we are losing a little piece of my daughter and who she is."

Winner-Davis said her daughter is "not a threat to anyone" and "doesn't deserve this."

Gary Davis, Winner's stepfather, said he feels like she has been "singled out."

"She was nobody, and they used her for a patsy and an example," he said.