A fundraising campaign aimed at helping whistleblower Chelsea Manning settle back into civilian life has raised over $21,500 in 20 hours and over $64,000 in 3 days. A GoFundMe page was set up for former U.S. Army intelligence analyst turned whistleblower, to help her with her living expenses when she is released from prison on May 17. The GoFundMe Page description reads the following.
“For the first time in her life, Chelsea will have the opportunity to live freely as her authentic self, to grow her hair, engage with her friends, and build her own networks of love and support.”
A GoFundMe page titled “Chelsea Manning Welcome Home Fund” was set up with a target of $100,000. The campaign has already raised over $64,000 in 3 days. Manning had been serving a 35-year sentence having been charged with espionage. But as one of his last executive decision as U.S. President, Barack Obama had commuted Manning’s sentence.
Manning, who is a transgender woman, had been serving her sentence in Fort Leavenworth, an all-male Army prison in Kansas. Following her commutation, she is also set to lose her entitlement of a general re-assignment surgery which is a part of the Pentagon’s new policy for its trans troops. Chelsea, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was born a man, but she had been undergoing hormone therapy to become a female. On the day of her conviction, she announced her transition to the court.
“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.”
Chelsea Manning, 29, was convicted of stealing over 750,000 pages of confidential documents and videos and sharing them to WikiLeaks. Obama had made a statement justifying his decision to commute Chelsea’s sentence.
“Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence. The notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished — I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served.”
Chelsea Manning thanked President Barack Obama for commuting her sentence. The former soldier thanked the outgoing President on Thursday, tweeting, “Thank you @BarackObama for giving me a chance. =,)”
Obama’s decision was, however, met with sharp criticism from some Republicans and the Intelligence community. Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, was against the decision. Speaking with CNN he had said the following.
“All I’ll say about the Manning case is I did not support the direction the President went. But he’s made his decision. That was not my recommendation.”
A former CIA Intelligence official had called Obama’s decision rash and hypocritical.
“The entire intelligence community is deflated by this inexplicable use of executive power. The move is also deeply hypocritical given Obama’s denunciation of WikiLeaks’ role in the hacking of the (Democratic National Committee).”
The United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Chelsea served her sentence. [Image by U.S. Army/Wikipedia Public Domain]
Chelsea Manning was initially sentenced to a 35-year long jail term with the possibility of parole after seven years in August 2013. The 29-year old had been convicted of handing a large amount of classified documents to the whistleblower site WikiLeaks and was charged with espionage. Before her conviction, Manning had served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, a position that made it possible for her to leak those documents. This leak is considered the biggest breach of classified documents in United States history.
[Featured Image by U.S. Army/Wikipedia Fair Use]