By Debbie Gregory.
The confession of an Air Force veteran and federal contractor who has been accused of leaking classified information may not be admissible in court.
A legal technicality may prevent prosecutors from using the admission of Reality Winner, the former Air Force linguist who stands charged of copying a classified report and mailing it to a leak-friendly news site.
Although Winner admitted that she had leaked the documents, her defense attorneys are now asking a federal judge to suppress any comments she made during the interview because the FBI agents who heard her confession never gave her a Miranda warning.
Even though Winner had not been formally arrested at that point, she believed she was under arrest as she was being questioned in her apartment, noting that the agents were standing in front of the door.
According to her attorneys, Winner was never told she was free to leave, nor was she advised as to her arrest status.
“Indeed, when she specifically asked whether she was under arrest, the agents told her they did not know the answer to that ‘yet,’” her attorneys claim.
Winner has entered a plea of not guilty to charges that she illegally retained and transmitted national defense information. And while authorities have not publicly discussed what that information was or to whom Winner transmitted it to, it seems fairly obvious.
Winner was denied bail shortly after her arrest and is currently in jail awaiting trial.
Winner’s case is the first leak prosecution the Trump administration has brought under the Espionage Act.. The Miranda rights argument made by her defense adds a potentially significant early wrinkle in what is almost sure to be a complex case.
The case has now been scheduled for March 2018. If convicted, Winner could face up to 10 years in prison.