Friday, 3 April 2015

Chelsea Manning: TwitterLeaks

Chelsea Manning, the US soldier serving 35 years in military prison for leaking state secrets to WikiLeaks, has joined the social media site Twitter.

The army private has secured the handle @xychelsea and will begin posting tweets from noon ET on Friday. Given the conditions of her custody – which do not extend to internet access – she will dictate comments by phone to supporters who will then post on her behalf.

The new Twitter feed had by 5.30pm ET on Thursday already attracted more than 1,000 followers, even before the soldier had uttered a word or followed any other accounts. Her page includes a drawing of her as she would like to be seen, with long hair – even though the military authorities have consistently refused to allow her to grow out her hair.

Manning was arrested at the Forward Operating Base Hammer outside Baghdad in Iraq where she was working as an intelligence analyst. After a prolonged trial, she was convicted of charges arising from having passed a massive stash of US state secrets to the open-information organization WikiLeaks.

After she was convicted, Manning revealed that she wanted to transition from her male birth gender to begin living as a woman. After months of legal struggle, theUS military agreed to approve her gender-reassignment hormone therapy – the first such treatment ever approved for an active member of the armed forces.

Since being incarcerated, Manning has developed her voice as a perceptive and questioning observer of international affairs as a columnist for the Guardian. She has written on issues ranging from President Obama’s “war on whistleblowers” to the CIA’s torture techniques and transgender politics.

The Chelsea Manning support team are encouraging people to follow the soldier on Twitter through a #FF campaign. They promise that the tweets posted on her feed will be “her own candid thoughts and comments”...

I think her tweets will therefore begin at 5pm BST.

Update: that first tweet in full!

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