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Reality Winner: US ex-NSA contractor and leaker released from prison

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A former US contractor and military veteran who was jailed for leaking classified documents to the media has been released from prison.

Reality Winner was the first person during the Trump era to face criminal charges for leaking government data.

Her release comes amid revelations that the US Justice Department received data about Democratic members of Congress as part of an effort to stem leaks.

US media reported that journalists’ data was also obtained in a 2017 probe.

The justice department said earlier this month that it would stop seizing reporters’ data during leak investigations. The seizure of lawmakers’ data will be probed by the department’s internal investigator, it was announced last week.

The 29-year-old was jailed in 2018 for providing classified documents related to alleged Russian election hacking to the Intercept website.

Winner was working as a linguist at an National Security Administration (NSA) facility in Georgia when she was detained and charged under the Espionage Act.

She was caught after investigators noticed that the leaked document appeared to have been folded or creased, indicating that it had been “printed and then carried out of a secured space”, according to an FBI affidavit in support of the arrest warrant.

After a trial, she was sentenced to over five years in prison. Since her arrest, she has repeatedly pressed for a presidential pardon.

Winner’s lawyer announced her release for good behaviour on Monday, saying she and her team are “relieved and hopeful”.

What did the leaked document allege?

Believed to have been passed to news website The Intercept, it alleged that Moscow’s military intelligence services had attempted cyber-attacks on at least one US voting software supplier days before the US presidential election in 2016.

It also accused Russia of sending phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials.

However, there was no suggestion in the document that the hackers were successful.

The files were apparently marked for declassification not before May 2042.

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