Reality Winner

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Why is there a push to pardon Snowden but not Reality Winner?

While Snowden is in exile, Reality Winner is in jail.


Libby Cohen


Posted on Dec 14, 2020   Updated on Dec 14, 2020, 1:15 pm CST

Renewed calls for whistleblower Edward Snowden’s pardon sparked a Twitter controversy on Monday.

Snowden re-entered the conversation last night when the ACLU posted a story praising the whistleblower and requesting his pardon for publishing classified information from the National Security Agency. However, Twitter users accused the ACLU of forgetting about Reality Winner, a former intelligence specialist who was charged for also sharing classified NSA material in 2017.

Winner has been in U.S. prison since 2018.

“Edward Snowden blew the whistle on illegal government activity kept secret for years. Our democracy is better off because of him,” the ACLU tweeted.

“Pardon Snowden,” the organization stated.

Snowden copied and shared NSA data that showed the extent to which the government was spying on the American people while he was a Central Intelligence Agency contractor.

He initiated a movement that begged for more transparency from the U.S. government and protections for whistleblowers like himself.

Snowden tweeted that there still remains roadblocks to government transparency, such as former director of the CIA John Brennan and author Kurt Eichenwald, who he describes as a “tentacle-porn enthusiast.”

“The primary public figures still openly against ending the War on Whistleblowers are now down to John Brennan, Dick Cheney’s progeny, and (literally) one tentacle-porn enthusiast. That’s how far we’ve come,” Snowden tweeted.

Eichenwald has been a harsh critic of Snowden, but his career took a hit when he posted a screenshot which included a tab for “tentacle porn” in 2017.

Snowden apologized if he offended any other tentacle-porn enthusiasts. “I may have overlooked. I’m not here to judge,” he wrote.

Snowden’s and the ACLU’s tweets set off a chain reaction of tweets that reiterated the “Pardon Snowden” rallying cry.

But many Twitter users want to see a presidential pardon offered to Winner who is serving a five-year prison sentence, suffering the consequences that Snowden was able to avoid by fleeing to Russia.

Reality Winner is now trending on Twitter.

“Dear @JoeBiden, Please Pardon Reality Winner in 37 days,” one tweet called for.

“Edward Snowden lives comfortably in St. Petersburg [Moscow] but countless blue-checks across the political spectrum clamor he be pardoned. Reality Winner stews in jail and yet she receives 1% of the attention. That @theintercept‘s writers largely ignore Winner is especially insulting,” another user noted.

“Snowden isn’t in jail. Reality Winner is. So why are most white leftists on here losing their minds about Snowden and saying bupkis about Reality Winner. It’s a rhetorical question,” another person added.

One account crossed out Snowden on the ACLU’s original tweet and wrote Winner’s name.

Reality Winner’s mother, Billie J. Winner-Davis, followed the news this morning and thanked accounts for bringing attention back to her daughter.

“Thank you so much for fixing this. My daughter #RealityWinner deserves freedom now. #FreeRealityWinner,” she tweeted.

Winner was sentenced in 2018 to five years and three months for sharing information related to Russia interference in the 2016 election.


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*First Published: Dec 14, 2020, 12:59 pm CST