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Whistleblower Reality Winner tests positive for coronavirus in Texas prison

2020-07-22

Reality Winner, the former NSA specialist who was convicted for leaking a top-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, has tested positive for coronavirus while behind bars, her sister said Monday.

“Officially COVID-19 positive,” Winner said in an email to her sister.

Winner, 28, is currently in prison at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, after being sentenced to five years and three months in prison as part of a plea deal in August 2018.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, more than 500 people at Carswell have tested positive for coronavirus, including Andrea Circle Bear, who spent a month on a ventilator after giving birth before she died in late April.

Winner has been petitioning for compassionate release during the coronavirus pandemic, citing an underlying medical condition. Her initial plea was rejected in April, according to the Intercept, and an appeal is currently pending.

Her lawyer told Law.com that he hopes the court will revisit Winner’s request in light of the Carswell outbreak.

“I hope the BOP is equipped to handle the geometric surge in cases, effectively at all their facilities, but I am concerned that may not be the case,” he said.

Several high-profile inmates, including Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, have been released under similar circumstances.

Winner was sentenced in August 2018 after pleading guilty to one count of felony transmission of national defense information.