SXSW REVIEW: United States vs. Reality Winner

A state of secrets and a ruthless hunt for whistleblowers – this is the story of 25-year-old NSA contractor Reality Winner.

Reality Winner is the eighth whistleblower charged under the Espionage Act since it was enacted in 1917. She sent classified documents to The Intercept that Russia was trying to hack into U.S. voting systems. The FBI withheld tapes of her interrogation for almost two years until February 2021.

Because news of her incarceration was buried, her mother Billie Winner-Davis fights on her behalf daily. Whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Thomas Drake are also interviewed, understanding that the U.S. doesn’t like individuals who stand up to them.

Reality Winner was concerned with providing pertinent information to the American public and her punishment was grossly out of proportion.

Being incarcerated since June 3, 2017 after interrogators assured her she didn’t need a lawyer, she remains in custody to this day. Despite her military service, she was denied bail and compassionate release and sentenced to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release.  During this time, she unfortunately contracted COVID-19 which she felt she had to hide in order not to be isolated. She also was guided by lawyers to personally thank Donald Trump, the current U.S. President at that time to help her case. Unfortunately, Trump was more concerned about the documents leaking than Russian interference.

The documentary from director Sonia Kennebeck and executive producer Wim Wenders covers essential information on her life and paints a human portrait. It’s essential viewing for anyone seeking the truth on a young woman who is unjustly incarcerated. More information is available to anyone seeking to become involved at:

Article was written by Allison McCulloch, follow her Twitter.

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