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Chelsea Manning (born Bradley E. Manning) is a former U.S. Army soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq, suspected of leaking classified military documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. Manning was formally charged in July 2010 with unauthorized transfer of classified data and national defense information; she received 22 additional charges in March 2011, including “aiding the enemy” which is a capital offense punishable by execution. The leaked material is said to have included 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, footage of a July 2007 Baghdad airstrike and footage of the May 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan.
Manning had been assigned to a unit of the 10th Mountain Division based near Baghdad in October 2009. There she had access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) used by the United States government to transmit classified information. She was arrested on May 26th, 2010 after a former “gray hat” computer hacker Adrian Lamo reported her the FBI for claiming to have leaked a classified video of an American helicopter attack that killed 12 people to Wikileaks that April. In July, these chat logs were made public and revealed that Manning was already facing a discharge for “adjustment disorder,” as she was coming to terms with gender dysphoria. In later chat logs, Manning claimed she had been working with Wikileaks since as early as 2009
May 22, 11:49:02 AM Manning: im in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors… and the only safe place i seem to have is this satellite internet connection …
11:49:51 AM Manning: and i already got myself into minor trouble, revealing my uncertainty over my gender identity … which is causing me to lose this job … and putting me in an awkward limbo …
12:15:11 PM Manning: hypothetical question: if you had free reign [sic] over classified networks for long periods of time … say, 8-9 months … and you saw incredible things, awful things … things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC … what would you do? …
12:26:09 PM Manning: lets just say someone i know intimately well, has been penetrating US classified networks, mining data like the ones described … and been transferring that data from the classified networks over the “air gap” onto a commercial network computer … sorting the data, compressing it, encrypting it, and uploading it to a crazy white haired aussie who can’t seem to stay in one country very long =L
Trial and Sentence
On February 28th, 2013, Manning plead guilty to 10 charges relating to the leaks, but the court insisted on taking her to trial for an additional 12 charges, including aiding the enemy. Her trial began on June 3rd, culminating on July 30th when the judge found Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy but convicted her with six counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, as well as several other charges that initially amounted in a possible maximum sentence of 136 years of jail time, but was later decreased to 90 years.
On August 14th, 2013, Manning apologized to the court (shown below), noting that she was just trying to help people but did not realize the amount of harm she had caused. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claimed this apology was “extracted by force” and that Manning will continue to be a symbol of courage for future whistleblowers. On August 21st, Manning was dishonorably discharged from the Army and given a 35 year sentence, with a three and a half year credit for the time she has already served. She was also given a 112 day recompense for the extreme nature of her initial solitary confinement, where she was allegedly forced to sleep naked without pillows or sheets and was not allowed access to television or newspapers during her one free hour per day for nine months.
On the day after the sentencing, Manning
Nobel Peace Prize Nomination
In 2011, Manning was one of 241 candidates listed for that year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The following year, she was again named as one of the 231 nominees. In April 2013, RootsAction launched an online petition (shown below) to encourage the Nobel Prize committee to give the award to Manning, which has gained more than 110,000 signatures as of August 2013. On August 12th, political activist and author Norman Solomon presented a physical copy of the petition consisting of more than 5,000 sheets of paper in two boxes to the Nobel Prize committee in Oslo, Norway.
Chelsea Manning was born as Bradley E. Manning on December 17th, 1987 in Crescent, Oklahoma. After spending some time in Wales for education, Manning travelled back to the United States and lived as an openly gay man. In 2007, she joined the U.S. Army where she was bullied and discharged from basic training within six weeks. Despite this, Manning continued basic training six months later and completed in April 2008. She was deployed to Iraq in October 2009.
On August 22nd, 2013, the day after her sentencing, Manning issued a statement to the Today show stating that she would be living out the rest of her life as a woman and would be beginning hormone therapy as soon as possible. She also requested that news media refer to her as Chelsea and use feminine pronouns when speaking about her, with the exception of official mail.
Huffington Post – Julian Assange: ‘Bradley Manning’s Apology Was Extracted By Force’
The Daily Beast – Extreme Solitary Confinement: What Did Bradley Manning Experience?
San Jose Mercury News – Marin activist lobbies in Norway for Nobel Peace Prize for Bradley Manning
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