The US army intelligence analyst, who has appealed to reduce 35 -year sentence, has suffered the most severe punishment ever given to a whistleblower
Chelsea Manning, the US army intelligence analyst who leaked a huge cache of state secrets to WikiLeaks, has entered her seventh year in military detention amid renewed concern about the Obama administrations harsh therapy of whistleblowers.
Manning, 28, was arrested at the Forward Operating Base Hammer outside Baghdad on 27 May 2010 and has suffered traumatic hours during her return to the US and prolonged detention in solitary confinement.
The six years in prison she has just completed amount to the most severe penalty of a whistleblower in the modern era.
The anniversary of Mannings arrest and detention arrives as the spotlight has again fallen on the Obama administrations tough approach to seeking whistleblowers. John Crane, former head of the Pentagons whistleblower unit, revealed this week that instead of providing a safe channel for government employees to report internal wrongdoing, the system actively retaliates against them for daring to voice the alarm.
Despite her portrait by the US government as a dangerous and reckless criminal, Manning remains an admired figure among advocates of more transparent government.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who remains in Russia having been charged by the American government with espionage over his leaks to the Guardian and other news organizations, used to say Manning was the first American to be sentenced to decades of prison for exposing truthful information to the press. Her conviction under a statute even the ACLU tells infringes the constitution is not just an injustice, its security threats to journalism.
WikiLeaks founder and editor, Julian Assange, speaking from the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he is fighting extradition to Sweden to face questioning on sexual assault allegations, said that Manning had already won the moral combat: Every year, new whistleblowers step forward to follow her instance. Now it is time for Manning to win her legal battle. The only just outcome in Chelsea Mannings case is her unconditional release, compensation for the unlawful therapy she has undergone, and a serious commitment to investigating the wrongdoing her alleged revealings have brought to light.
Daniel Ellsberg is Americas most celebrated whistleblower, having in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, exposing the conduct of the Vietnam war. He marked the anniversary of Mannings arrest by saying: I waited 40 years for Chelsea Manning. I dont want to wait another 30 to thank her in freedom.
The Courage Foundation, an international organization that supports whistleblowers including Snowden, has this week launched a new European fundraising endeavor to help cover the costs of Mannings appeal against her 35 -year sentence.
Sarah Harrison, the groups acting director, called her penalty a travesty.
Chelsea Manning is one of the most important figures of the digital age and a hero to many of us, Harrison told. Her incarceration will be a lasting stain on Americas reputation.
Last week, Mannings appeal was lodged with the US army court of criminal appeals in Virginia. It calls for a decrease in the grossly unfair and unprecedented sentence to 10 years , noting pointedly that David Petraeus, the former CIA director who passed classified information to his biographer and then devotee, was fined and given two years probation with no prison time.
Nancy Hollander, the lead lawyer on Mannings appeal, “ve called the” sentence and sentence one of the most unjust in military history. The legal squad is awaiting the American government response to the appeal filing; it will then prepare to argue the instance for a sentence reduction in front of the appeals court.
Since her sentence, support for Chelsea has only grown, Hollander told, as the world acknowledges her commitments to justice, equality and a more accountable government.
In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison, for leaking as many as 700,000 official secret documents. The documents included many cables from US embassies around the world, war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and the famous collateral murder video of an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad on a group of civilians including Reuters photographers.
Manning is being held in the military brig at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where she is involved in separate legal action relating to her desire to transition as a transgender woman.
European donations to Chelsea Mannings defence money can be made tax-free via the Wau Holland Foundation