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Reality Winner was released from prison on June 2, 2021 (Image via. Wikipedia)

HBO movie Reality: Who is Reality Winner and what did she do?

A traitor or a victim of a misunderstanding? The story of Reality Winner is indeed a peculiar one as nobody in the history of the American judicial system was sentenced this long in prison for leaking classified government information to the media.

Although she has been released on account of good behavior, the circumstances under which she was arrested remain a topic of heavy debate.


The upcoming HBO drama film titled Reality will explain this case in detail as it is adapted from the real FBI interrogation transcript of the former enlisted U.S. Air Force member and NSA translator.

It stars Sydney Sweeney as Reality Winner and is based on IsThis A Room by Tina Satter.


Reality Winner leaked an American intelligence report to the news website The Intercept

Born in Texas on December 4, 1991, to Billie and Ronald Winner, Reality was extremely interested in politics and many other topics like history and philosophy.


Her interest in them only grew stronger after the September 11 attacks, which made her participate in discussions with her father regarding geopolitics and Islam. She even garnered a strong interest in the Arabic language following the tragedy of the Twin Towers.

After serving in the United States Air Force from 2010 to 2016, she joined a firm called Pluribus International Corporation which provides services under contract to the National Security Agency.

On June 3, 2017, Reality was arrested by the FBI on suspicion of leaking a report to the news website The Intercept that stated that Russian hackers ran an email phishing operation that messed with voter registration rolls.

Reality was neither informed of her Miranda rights, nor did she mention anything about consulting a lawyer.


After a trial of more than a year, on On August 23, 2018, on the basis of breaching the Espionage Act of 1917, she was sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison. After her sentencing, she told the judge:

"My actions were a cruel betrayal of my nation's trust in me."

On June 2, 2021, she was transferred to a transitional facility on account of good behavior. Her lawyer Alison Grinter Allen released a statement that said:

"I am thrilled to announce that Reality Winner has been released from prison. She is still in custody in the residential reentry process, but we are relieved and hopeful. Reality and her family have asked for privacy during the transition process as they work to heal the trauma of incarceration and build back the years lost."

It further stated:

"Her release is not a product of the pardon or compassionate release process, but rather the time earned from exemplary behavior while incarcerated. Reality is still barred from public statements or appearances, and any inquiries can be handled through my office."

Reality on HBO synopsis

The official synopsis of Reality on HBO reads:

"On June 3, 2017, 25-year-old Reality Winner returns from running errands to find two FBI agents at her home in Augusta, Georgia. An Air Force veteran and yoga instructor, Winner spends the next two hours being questioned about her work as an intelligence contractor – specifically, whether she leaked a classified document about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections."

It continues:

"With all dialogue taken from the FBI transcript, Reality tells the tense, mesmerizing story of what transpired inside Winner’s home that afternoon. As she navigates the federal agents’ questions, Winner is revealed to be a fairly typical 20-something: She treasures her pets, loves to travel, teaches CrossFit, shares selfies on social media."

Reality stars Sydney Sweeney as Reality Winner, Marchánt Davis as Taylor, and Josh Hamilton as Garrick.


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Edited by
Kanav Seth
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