KINGSVILLE, Texas — The release of a new documentary is profiling a South Texas woman who's in federal prison for espionage. The film debuted today at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin.
Reality Winner was arrested back in June 2017. Her family is again speaking out, hoping this new attention to her case will help to not only get her released from prison, but perhaps to secure a presidential pardon.
The documentary comes more than four years after Winner, a Kingsville native and former Air Force Intelligence Specialist, pleaded guilty for leaking classified information.
Winner was sentenced to 63 months in prison for leaking documents pertaining to the 2016 presidential election that included alleged proof of Russian attacks on the voting system. That inspired the documentary's director.
"The story is personal to me because as an investigative journalist and film maker, I strongly believe in a free press and that we have to protect our democracy," Director Sonya Kenneback said. "But we can only protect our democracy if we also protect whistleblowers."
Winner's mother continues to hold out hope her daughter will be released and granted clemency.
"Finally, we have gotten an increase in awareness and an increase up there in social media," mother Billie Winner Davis said. "There's a lot of interest right now, particularly because the documentary that is spotlighting her case 'United States versus Reality Winner.'"
The documentary follows Winner from the day she was arrested to the most recent efforts to garner a presidential pardon. Winner Davis said her daughter was doing what she thought was the right thing to do as a patriot.
"The document that my daughter released was an intel summary that had information about how Russian agencies had tried to infiltrate our election, our voting systems in 2016 during the presidential election," Winner Davis said.
"While the public knew that the Russians had done some things to interfere with our elections, such as social media stuff and they hacked into the DNC and RNC email sites, nobody knew this information that they had actually tried to get into our actual voting systems."
Later, Winner's revelations would be proven fact that the Russians did try to interfere with our elections.
"And for that they charged her under the Espionage Act and portrayed her as a traitor and a spy," Winner Davis said.
Her mother said she has tried to reach our areas congressmen to no avail. She prays this documentary and the attention her daughter is now getting will get her out of prison, her name cleared and back home.
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