Chelsea Manning explains why she leaked secret military documents, fought for transgender rights behind bars

Chelsea Manning has been called a hero by some, a traitor by others, but when asked how she sees herself, she said, “I’m just me.”

“It’s as simple as that,” Manning told “Nightline” co-anchor Juju Chang in an exclusive interview on “Nightline.”

Manning, a transgender U.S. Army soldier, was in prison for seven years at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after being convicted by a military tribunal under the Espionage and Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts and sentenced to 35 years in prison for releasing over 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks, of which only small amount of those documents ultimately lead to her conviction (some of them were published by The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel).

xychelsea87/Instagram
Chelsea Manning posted this photo on Instagram with this caption:”Okay, so here I am everyone!!” on May 18, 2017.

When asked if she felt she owed the American public an apology, Manning said she has accepted responsibility for her actions.

“Anything I’ve done, it’s me. There’s no one else,” she said. “No one told me to do this. Nobody directed me to do this. This is me. It’s on me.”

Manning at that time was a 22-year-old Army private named Bradley Manning. The information she disclosed included low level battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, evidence of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo prison camp detainee profiles and U.S. diplomatic correspondence.

In referring to the military documents she was reviewing and what compelled her to risk her career and break the law by leaking them, Manning said, “We’re getting all this information from all these different sources and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem.”

“We’re filtering it all through facts, statistics, reports, dates, times, locations, and eventually, you just stop,” she continued. “I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people.”

Manning said she leaked the documents because she wanted to spark public…

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