Former intelligence contractor and whistleblower Reality Winner has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Winner’s sister, Brittany Winner, tweeted her diagnosis earlier today. Winner is currently incarcerated in a federal medical prison in Fort Worth, Texas, where an outbreak has sickened hundreds of inmates and killed at least two.
Winner is seeking compassionate release during the coronavirus pandemic, citing underlying medical conditions. An early petition for release from her imprisonment at FMC Carswell was denied in April. Shortly afterward, Carswell reported its first coronavirus death: Andrea Circle Bear, who died after giving birth on a ventilator. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last week that 130 people had contracted COVID-19 at the prison; the most recent Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics show over 500 cases. An appeal is currently pending.
Winner’s attorney, Joe Whitley, told Law.com’s Daily Report that he hopes the court will take the outbreak into consideration. “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.” According to Daily Report, Winner’s sister says she is currently asymptomatic, and one of her cellmates also tested positive.
Prisons have emerged as one of the most dangerous hotspots for America’s coronavirus outbreak. Attorney General William Barr has ordered prisons to prioritize releasing inmates to home confinement, but numerous reports have demonstrated confusion and delays in the process — although some high-profile Trump associates, like Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, have been released.
Winner, who previously worked for the National Security Agency, accepted a plea deal for espionage in 2018 after leaking a report on Russian election interference to The Intercept. She is currently scheduled for release in November 2021.