Update - 21 August 2013
A military court has sentenced Manning to 35 year in jail for espionage, theft, and violation of military computer regulations. The below article was written two weeks ago, after the announcement of the verdict.
Chelsea Manning [formerly Bradley: she has changed her name and gender identity] released military documents to WikiLeaks, documents which included footage of a US military helicopter gunning down a father taking his children to school; evidence of a death squad operating in Afghanistan; and files showing that Guantánamo held dementia patients, taxi drivers and prisoners of the Taliban.
The proceedings were likened to a Stalinist show trial as a string of technicalities went in favour of the prosecution, and the press were stymied by the secrecy surrounding the case.
While waiting for her trial in military prison Manning was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, sunlight, and on a number of occasions forced to stay completely naked.
In the event Manning was found not guilty charge of aiding the enemy, but that may not deliver a lighter sentence. Manning is the latest of many whistleblowers who have been prosecuted using the 1917 Espionage Act. All on Barack Obama’s watch, the man who was elected President promising increased transparency and protection for whistleblowers.
During the trial Manning gave an articulate and sober account of her motives for the leak, countering the propaganda that she had psychological problems and was a loose cannon. Manning’s testimony revealed an awareness of the personal risk and self-sacrifice that she was undertaking, and showed a degree of courage and confidence that revolutionary socialists should aspire to.
As we await the unwelcome news of her jail term, we must not forget her plight.