Chelsea Manning is an American activist and whistleblower who was convicted in 2013 of leaking classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017.
Ms. Manning was born Bradley Manning in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1987. She joined the Army in 2007 and was assigned to a military intelligence unit in Iraq in 2009. While stationed in Iraq, Manning began downloading classified documents that she believed showed the United States military engaging in war crimes. In 2010, Ms. Manning contacted WikiLeaks and began providing the organisation with the documents, including 400,000 documents which WikiLeaks would publish as 'The Iraq War Diary'. Ms. Manning reportedly engaged directly with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Mr. Assange denied knowing the sources of any materials provided to WikiLeaks.
Ms. Manning was arrested in 2010 and charged with a variety of offences, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Evidence was presented during her prosecution which suggested that the WikiLeaks contact Ms. Manning was engaging with was Julian Assange himself, but this has not been proven.
Ms. Manning was convicted of seven counts, including espionage, but not aiding the enemy, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. During her prison time she could only be visited by people she had named prior to her imprisonment, could not be photographed or provide filmed interviews and was not permitted to browse the internet.
Ms. Manning served seven years in prison before President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017. She was released from prison on May 17, 2017. Since her release, Ms. Manning has continued to speak out about government transparency and whistleblowing, and earns her income through speaking engagements. She has also written a book about her experiences, titled "README.txt."