FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas — Lawyers for Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army whistleblower imprisoned for leaking classified documents that revealed secret details of the United States’s military empire, will be better prepared for an upcoming appeal of her sentence after an ongoing, highly successful fundraising campaign.
Manning leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, revealing the inner workings of American diplomacy and warfare. Her leak included “Collateral Murder,” a video showing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing a group of people that included two Reuters journalists and a family of bystanders that attempted to rescue the victims. After the government subjected Manning to solitary confinement and other conditions many argue were torture, a military court convicted her of violating the Espionage Act and sentenced her to 35 years in prison in August 2013. She is currently serving her sentence at an Army installation at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Watch the now famous Collateral Murder video:
The alleged mistreatment is at the heart of an upcoming appeal of her conviction, but Manning and her supporters first needed to raise funds to mount a credible legal defense. Manning began tweeting in April, and later that month she tweeted a link where supporters could donate to her legal aid fund. Her appeal raised $40,000, but this fell far short of the needed amount.
Last week, Glenn Greenwald joined with the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a group he co-founded with whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, journalist and filmmaker Laura Poitras, and actor John Cusack, to offer $60,000 in matching funds for Manning’s legal defense. Greenwald alone donated $10,000 of the total amount.
“As I’ve argued for years, Chelsea Manning is one of this generation’s greatest heroes. Daniel Ellsberg has called her ‘the personification of the word whistleblower,’” Greenwald wrote in his fundraising announcement.
According to Andrew Hart, front page editor at The Huffington Post, the fundraiser quickly exceeded the matching funds by raising over $120,000 in just 48 hours. As of Monday afternoon, Manning’s fundraiser has raised over $140,000 of its $200,000 goal.
Kevin Gosztola, a reporter who covered Manning’s previous court appearances for the news blog Firedoglake, told MintPress News he expects Manning’s supporters to continue to give generously. Firedoglake supported previous crowdfunding efforts for Manning prior to her trial in 2013.
“As I’ve argued for years, Chelsea Manning is one of this generation’s greatest heroes.» -Daniel Ellsberg
«Chelsea Manning’s case remains a case with great implications for not only press freedom but also whistleblowing in the United States,” Gosztola said. “It continues to be an example to the world of how America will punish truth-tellers while at the same time refusing to hold torturers or war criminals accountable.»
Gosztola hopes to return to court for more coverage. «I covered the court-martial of Manning extensively, and I plan on being present to witness and report on all stages of Manning’s legal appeals, which now have the potential to be incredibly strong since legal expenses will not be an issue.»
In a statement to the Freedom of the Press Foundation blog published last week, Manning’s lawyer, Nancy Hollander, explained what’s at stake in the upcoming appeal:
“The issues on appeal include the horrific way that Chelsea was treated, subjected to months of solitary confinement and harsh restrictions that were outrageous, punitive and unnecessary. She was denied her constitutional right to a speedy trial and experienced a wholesale lack of due process.”
But despite the donations, Hollander explained that Manning and her legal team will still face a difficult legal challenge.
“My law partner, Vince Ward, Chelsea’s detailed appellate counsel, Cpt David Hammond, and I are working our way through the longest written record in military history and take on this fight willingly. Chelsea has the right to have someone stand between her and the awesome power of her own government when all that power is directed at her.”