Three days before Americans voted last November, Reality Winner joked with her sister online that Moscow’s efforts to influence the US presidential election could have an upside for her as a keen weightlifter. “When we become the United States of the Russian Federation,” she said on Facebook, “Olympic lifting will be the national sport.” Seven months later, Winner, 25, called home to Texas on Saturday to let her family know that the Russian hacking saga had ended up landing her in a far more serious situation. “She said that she had been arrested by the FBI and that she couldn’t really talk about it,” her mother, Billie Winner-Davis, told the Guardian in a telephone interview. “I am still in shock.”
Two days later, and having rushed to Georgia for Winner’s first court appearance on Monday for charges of leaking a classified document to reporters, her family remains confused.
Winner-Davis said she was unaware that her daughter had allegedly already admitted, when questioned, to taking the top-secret document. Nor had she heard of the Intercept, the media outlet reported to have been the leak’s destination. And she really did not know why Reality would have done it.