Coronavirus prompts ex-NSA contractor to seek prison release

Is prison a 'petri dish' for the virus?

AUGUSTA, Ga. — A former National Security Agency contractor sentenced to federal prison for leaking classified government information is asking for a compassionate release due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK HALTS VISITS TO FEDERAL INMATES

Reality Leigh Winner has preexisting conditions that make her more susceptible to being infected with COVID-19, defense attorney Joe Whitley said in a motion filed Friday in federal court in Augusta, Georgia, the Augusta Chronicle reported.

In this Friday, July 13, 2018, file photo, inmates pass the time within their cell block at the Twin Falls County Jail in Twin Falls, Idaho. (Pat Sutphin/The Times-News via AP)

The motion says Winner has a history of respiratory illness and an eating disorder. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, but also milder cases of pneumonia that sometimes require hospitalization.

Winner, 28, is serving a sentence of five years and three months at Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, for a single count of transmitting national security information when she worked at a National Security Agency office in Georgia.

The prison is a “petri dish” for the new coronavirus that's run out of hand sanitizer and has no way to carry out proper social distancing or self-isolation, Whitley stated.

Inmates stage a protest against new rules to cope with coronavirus emergency, as they stand on the roof of the San Vittore prison in Milan, Italy, Monday, March 9, 2020 (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

The Bureau of Prison said two inmates at the prison tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Chronicle reported.

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Earlier this year, Winner sought clemency from President Donald Trump. Her attorney, Alison Grinter Allen, announced in February an application with the Justice Department for early release that included about 4,500 letters of support.

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