Pro-Trump media falsely claim accused leaker Reality Winner had “plans to join the Taliban”

Fox & Friends is echoing baseless claims from fringe and pro-Trump media sites that the government contractor accused of leaking National Security Agency (NSA) documents revealing new information about Russian hacking in the 2016 election had “plans to join the Taliban.”

Fringe, far right, and "alt-right" affiliated media sites have baselessly pushed the claim that Reality Leigh Winner, who leaked government information about the Russian hacking to the Intercept, had plans to “pledge her allegiance to the Taliban.” However, according to The Washington Post, “prosecutors were not trying to link [Winner] to terrorism,” and the assistant U.S. attorney told the judge on the case that “The government is not in any way suggesting the defendant has become a jihadist or that she is a Taliban sympathizer.” Nonetheless, Fox & Friends picked up the fringe right-wing claim and reported it as fact.

From the June 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

Video file

JILLIAN MELE: The government contractor accused of leaking top secret NSA documents also wanted to burn down the White House. Reality Winner denied bail after pleading not guilty in federal court. A judge calling her “a danger to the nation” after prosecutors revealed handwritten notes about plans to join the Taliban. She also told her sister she would play the, quote, “pretty, white and cute card” to get out of trouble. Winner is charged for leaking a report about Russian interference in the presidential election to an online news outlet.