Chelsea Manning’s First Birthday in Prison

Chelsea Manning’s First Birthday in Prison

Today, 17 December 2013, Chelsea Manning is spending her birthday in prison, the first of a remaining thirty-five. In August this year, after three years of incarceration, she was sentenced to a prison sentence for 22 different charges, including aiding the enemy.

Chelsea Manning won her fair share of unwanted fame in May 2010, when she was betrayed by confidant Adrian Lamo and arrested for having leaked a number of confidential documents and video clips to WikiLeaks. Among her most famous leaks is the now well known ‘Collateral Murder’ film, in which American soldiers mercilessly attack a number of civilian Iraqis, including reporters and children.

In August 2013, after three years suffering treatment that the United Nations called “cruel and inhumane”, Manning was sentenced for 22 charges. The most severe charge was “aiding the enemy”, which alone is enough to warrant a death sentence.

Alongside the recent case of Edward Snowden, who might never again see his homeland, the Chelsea Manning case makes it clear that whistleblowers are under constant threat. Reporters Without Borders says that the imprisonment “strikes a blow against American democracy, in which the press must be free to report government abuses”, they also criticised the non-transparent nature of the trial.

As Chelsea Manning gets to spend her twenty-sixth birthday in prison, little has changed since her original incarceration. The documents she leaked are still out in the public, the American government continues to be criticised for their actions in Iraq, and documents from fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden continue to be leaked. The American government wanted to set an example with the case of Chelsea Manning, scaring away other whistleblowers, and only time will tell if they succeeded.