Chelsea Manning, the transgender U.S. soldier imprisoned for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, officially joined Twitter Thursday evening. Manning will tweet via a third party while serving out her 35-year prison sentence.
Manning just joined Twitter in the late afternoon on Thursday, and by Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET she had already gained nearly 23,000 followers. Although she does not have internet access in prison, a communications firm, Fitzgibbon Communications, is handling Manning’s account, @xychelsea, reports NBC News.
ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio tells Politico that the imprisoned soldier has joined Twitter because she continues to want her voice to be heard.
“She is committed to having a voice and engaging with the public and will try to be present on twitter as much as she is able to connect with people on the outside.”
Chelsea Manning’s initial tweets indicate she cannot tweet directly, but has a way to stay in contact with followers.
She gives shout-outs to supporters and says she hopes to tweet as frequently as daily. Manning also wants to make sure interactions with followers are “meaningful.”
Private Bradley Edward Manning was convicted in July of 2013 of violations of the United States’ Espionage Act for passing classified documents to WikiLeaks. Manning was found to have funneled some 700,000 documents, the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history.
In August of 2013, the soldier announced she was changing her name to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning and wanted to begin living as a woman, as previously reported by Inquisitr. In February of 2015, after suing the federal government, the transgender soldier was approved for hormone therapy treatment, according to USA Today. In March of 2015, as Inquisitr reported, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the prisoner shall be addressed by either her current legal name or by a feminine or gender neutral pronoun in all future legal proceedings. She has been serving out her 35-year sentence in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, which she lists as her location on Twitter.
Joining Twitter is not Manning’s first contact with the public as she is a columnist for the Guardian. According to the publication, Chelsea writes on a variety of national issues including the President’s “war on whistleblowers” to the CIA’s torture methods and transgender politics.
Manning will not be eligible for gender reassignment surgery until after her release from prison. She is eligible for parole after serving 10 years. Manning and her supporters still fight for her early release.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]