Chelsea Manning is back in the headlines following the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. She is also once again behind bars after declining to cooperate with authorities.
Manning — who is transgender — was found guilty in 2013 of passing classified information to Wikileaks in violation of her security clearances as an intelligence analyst in the US Army.
Now Assange will be extradited to the United States to face charges related to cooperation with Manning ten years ago.
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How We Got Here
According to prosecutors, Manning sent Assange hundreds of thousands of classified records between 2009 and 2010. They included videos of American troops accidentally killing civilians, which Manning considered abhorrent. In all, the leak included four nearly complete databases. Included among them: 90,000 reports from the Afghanistan war, 400,000 reports from the Iraq war, 90,000 reports from the Afghanistan war and 250,000 State Department cables.
On March 7, 2010, Manning told Assange she was done. “After this upload, that’s all I really have got left.” Central to the government’s claims of “computer intrusion,” Mr. Assange allegedly replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience.”
Eventually Manning was found guilty on 20 counts that ranged from espionage to theft and computer fraud. However, the judge concluded she was innocent of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge against her. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison and dishonorably discharged without pay.
During the entire time, Manning was also dealing with gender identity issues. Her incarceration veered between pleas for help with body dysmorphia and suicide attempts. In 2016, President Barack Obama commuted her sentence which led to her release.
Following her release, Manning became an activist and ran for a Maryland senate seat occupied by Democrat Ben Cardin. Cardin won renomination by 80 per cent; Manning won just 5.7 of the vote.
Back Behind Bars
Manning was jailed again in March after a federal judge found her in contempt of court. Despite being granted immunity by prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, Manning declined to testify before a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.
Now Assange’s extradition sets up another lengthy legal battle and reignites an ongoing debate. Is Chelsea Manning a hero? Is she a whistleblower alerting Americans to a real Deep State scenario? Or is she simply seeking attention? The legal issues are likely to be resolved long before the either side’s motivations are completely understood.
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Last modified: April 11, 2019