On the day that heroic WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning walks free from Fort Leavenworth, Courage is partnering with Reporters Without Borders and the Wau Holland Foundation to kickstart a much needed fundraiser for her legal appeal.
President Barack Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence rather than grant her a pardon leaves the precedent of her 2013 Espionage Act conviction for whistleblowing fully intact. The ramifications of Chelsea’s 35-year sentence take on new significance under a US administration that has made unprecedented threats against media freedom.
Chelsea’s legal appeal will have wide-ranging, long-lasting implications for the future of whistleblowing and journalism in the US and beyond. In recognition of this, Reporters without Borders and the Wau Holland Foundation have joined with Courage to start the fundraiser with an initial 20,000 Euro. Members of the public can donate below.
Nathan Fuller, a campaigner with Courage who attended and reported on Chelsea’s court martial, said:
I have spent the last several years of my life working toward this day, and I’m so grateful that it has finally come. It’s so important that we follow through, and not rest on this victory. There’s no chance of President Trump reforming the draconian Espionage Act that was used against Chelsea and other whistleblowers. But it’s a near certainty that we’ll see more leak prosecutions, and soon. Chelsea’s appeal is our only hope of challenging this bad law and improving the situation for the whistleblowers Trump will prosecute in the future. It’s also our best chance of enabling Edward Snowden to come home.
Chelsea Manning’s attorney, Nancy Hollander, said:
Chelsea’s release today is a tremendous victory after a long, hard-fought battle. We are overjoyed at her release from prison. But the battle continues: her legal appeal remains an incredibly important effort to challenge her unfair trial. Chelsea should never have been charged with violations of the Espionage Act, or held in solitary confinement for almost one year, under conditions tantamount to torture. Please continue to support her as we fight in her appeal to clear her name.
Manning, who was convicted in 2013, had her 35 year sentence commuted by President Barack Obama in one of his last acts in office. She will be released today, 17 May, having served almost 7 years of a 35 year sentence.
Chelsea’s appeal began after her trial in 2013. Her defence team filed its application to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals last year and the government is now due to respond. The process will continue through 2017 and if unsuccessful, it will continue to higher levels, possibly to include the US Supreme Court.