WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning’s senate bid branded a ‘publicity stunt’ by transgender ex-Navy SEAL
Chelsea Manning who was formerly known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 of the largest leak of classified documents in US history and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Transgender whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, jailed for leaking classified information, is seeking election in the US state of Maryland.
The Federal Election Commission document, filed Thursday, listed Chelsea Elizabeth Manning of North Bethesda, Maryland, as a Democratic candidate for the United States senate.
Manning declined to speak about her filing or to say why she might be running when reached at her home in Bethesda on Saturday.
She said she might release a statement in the coming days.
“Our only statement on the record is ‘No statement’,” Manning said.
Manning, now 30, was an army intelligence analyst sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The revelations by Manning, then known as Bradley Manning, exposed covered-up misdeeds and possible crimes by US troops and allies.
Her actions made Manning a hero to anti-war and anti-secrecy activists but US establishment figures branded her a traitor.
Watch: Manning says she’s not a traitor
Then-president Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, leading to her release in May.
During her incarceration, Manning battled for, and won, the right to start hormone treatment.
On Twitter, she identifies herself as a “trans woman,” and carries the slogan: “Make powerful people angry”.
The Democratic Senate incumbent is Ben Cardin, who was first elected in 2006 and is the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Manning would not be the first transgender candidate to challenge a sitting member of Congress.
Kristin Beck, a retired Navy SEAL who is transgender, failed to unseat Steny Hoyer in Maryland’s Democratic Primary in 2016.
Beck got 12 per cent of the vote.
“It was too much for me to run for Congress,” Beck said.
“I should have run for something lower. She might as well be running for president.”
Beck said Manning is pulling a “publicity stunt”.
“I totally, 100 per cent disagree with everything she did,” Beck said.
“She’s just grabbing headlines. I know what that feels like. I’ve been in the headlines. You get a sense that you’re worthy and doing something that counts. And when you lose that, you try to do something to grab a headline.”
In elections last year, transgender candidate Danika Roem was elected to the Virginia state House of Delegates, becoming the first openly transgender lawmaker in the United States.
US President Donald Trump has labelled Manning a traitor.
He also tried to bar transgender personnel from the military, but federal courts ruled against that ban.
When Manning was released in May, she said that she was eager to define her future - but made no mention of politics.
“I’m figuring things out right now - which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me,” Manning said.
She added: “I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past.”
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, The Washington Post