[Vision2020] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Former cellmate provides window into Reality Winner’s life behind bars
starbliss at gmail.com
Tue Jun 26 18:22:54 PDT 2018
Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
Former cellmate provides window into Reality Winner’s life behind bars
Thursday, May 03, 2018
By Jeremy Redmon <https://www.myajc.com/staff/jeremy-redmon/> and Johnny
Edwards <https://www.myajc.com/staff/johnny-edwards/> - The Atlanta
Reality Winner, the Augusta woman accused of leaking a top-secret
government report about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election,
said she has been jailed for “nothing,” that President Donald Trump doesn’t
like her and that she is being targeted, a former cellmate told The Atlanta
Meanwhile, the former Air Force linguist is keeping in contact with her
mother by phone, writing letters to her supporters and maintaining a
rigorous daily workout regimen, said Mikaela Uscanga, who was held with
Winner in the Lincoln County jail for much of March.
Winner, 26, has also suffered hardships. Another inmate attacked her
earlier this year
Not wanting to be charged with another crime, Winner curled up in the fetal
position and took a beating, Uscanga said. She also injured her knee in a
nasty spill while being transported for a court hearing, landing face-first
while shackled and handcuffed.
The two new friends kept their spirits up, Uscanga said, by joking with
each other and laughing in the 12-bed, female-only dorm they shared.
“She is a veteran. She is already a patriot,” said Uscanga, 18, who is out
of jail on bond awaiting trial on felony drug possession charges. “I feel
like she was trying to help United States citizens — because who wouldn’t
want to know if the voting systems were being hacked, when you are the one
voting for the president?”
Winner, the first person to be prosecuted by the Trump administration on
allegations of leaking, has pleaded not guilty
to a charge of giving the National Security Agency report to The Intercept,
an online news publication. She is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act
and faces 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Winner has been held behind bars for about 10 months. Her trial is
scheduled to begin Oct. 15.
Winner’s and Uscanga’s families grew close during the women’s time in jail
together. Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, put $200 in Uscanga’s
inmate account for food, clothing and toiletries. She also sent Uscanga
some GED study books. During her last trip to Georgia in April,
Winner-Davis spent time with Uscanga, her fiance, her mother and her
“Mikaela wants to let the world know that Reality is a good person, and
that even though she’s there in jail, Reality continues to be a very
giving, nurturing person,” Winner-Davis said. “The reason I put the money
on her books is because Reality asked me to do that. Reality was very torn
up about the fact that her mother had been to see her and her mother did
not have any money to help her out.”
Calling Winner the big sister she never had, Uscanga said Winner helped her
adjust after she got locked up.
“I started crying,” Uscanga said, “because I know I had a family that
missed me and I know that I had messed up really bad. She comforted me and
let me know that everything is going to be OK and that people make mistakes
and sometimes there are things we can’t do anything about.”
The two have been speaking daily by phone since Uscanga got out of jail on
March 30. Uscanga shared with WSB-TV a video recording of a phone call the
two had last month. In the call, the two can be heard joking about jail
“Hello, world,” Winner announces during the call before referring to the
jail’s kitchen. “Girl, let me tell you about dinner tonight because I can’t
even be mad about it. There was so much struggle going on in that kitchen
today. There were leftover peas from Sunday and potato chips.”
A vegan, Winner has refused to give up her diet behind bars, and her health
has suffered for it, according to her family. Her mother said she has tried
in vain to convince the jail to accommodate her with fresh fruit and
vegetables instead of canned food.
“I know that they were being funny and they were laughing,” Winner-Davis
said of the phone call, “but I heard that piece of it, and it broke my
heart as a parent.”
Meanwhile, Winner’s attorneys are continuing to ask the federal judge in
the case to throw out the initial statements she made to FBI agents
on June 3 at her home in Augusta. Winner said she was never advised she had
the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
On April 27, her attorneys filed court papers, citing former FBI Director
James Comey’s recently released memos, saying they show his agency was
under “extraordinary pressure” from Trump to pursue leakers. Those memos,
the court papers say, confirm the FBI was required to advise her of her
Miranda rights because she was not free to leave her home when the federal
agents showed up.
“With the extraordinary pressure coming from the highest parts of the
executive branch to aggressively pursue leakers, the FBI was simply never
going to allow Ms. Winner to walk out the door,” the court papers say.
Also on April 27, Winner’s legal team suffered a setback when U.S.
Magistrate Judge Brian Epps rejected all but one of her attorneys’ 41
requests to subpoena the White House and numerous states and federal
agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CIA and the
National Security Council, for classified information. The court filings
don’t identify what records her attorneys are seeking. Epps called the
requests he rejected “scattershot, dragnet attempts to discover evidence
not presently known to exist.”
“In these national security cases, judges seem to side with the
government,” said Melvin Goodman, who worked in the CIA’s Office of Soviet
Affairs before testifying in Congress in 1991 about the confirmation of
Robert Gates to lead the agency. He now teaches international relations at
Johns Hopkins University.
“That’s one of the guardrails of democracy that’s not working,” Goodman
said. “So I’m not surprised by this, because I think they’re really going
to make an example of her anyway.”
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