U.S. News: The Trials of Chelsea Manning

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff


After being sentenced to 35 years in prison, Manning makes a statement.

Bradley Manning

PFC Chelsea Manning official army photo, 2012

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On August 21, 2013, Private First Class Chelsea Manning, identified in the court proceedings as Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking over 700,000 U.S. government files to WikiLeaks, files containing classified U.S. military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the longest sentence ever given in the U.S. involving leaked government data to the public. She also received a reduction in rank, a dishonorable discharge and would no longer receive any pay or allowances from the U.S. military. The charges against him included stealing government property, multiple counts of disobeying orders, violating the Espionage Act as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Manning, age 25, could be up for parole in seven years. Manning would serve their sentence in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Immediately after the verdict, Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organization based in France, condemned the length of Manning's sentence and called it dangerous. "The verdict is warning to all whistleblowers, against whom the Obama administration has been waging an unprecedented offensive that has ignored the public interest in their revelations. It also threatens the future of investigative journalism, which risks finding its sources drying up," Reporters Without Borders said.

The day after the sentencing, Manning announced that she was a woman and wanted to be referred to from now on as Chelsea, rather than her previously identified name Bradley. The announcement was made during an appearance on the Today show by David E. Coombs, Manning's defense lawyer. Coombs made the announcement by reading Manning's written statement. In the statement, Manning wrote: "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun."

In the days following, Coombs remained optimistic and told the New York Times that she hoped the military prison officials would voluntarily provide hormone treatment without a court order. However, under U.S. military policy, it may be impossible for Manning to begin transitioning while in military prison. In response to Manning's statement, Kimberly Lewis, a spokesperson for the Fort Leavenworth all-male military prison, said, "The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder."

by Jennie Wood

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