Convicted WikiLeaks soldier Manning says not a pacifist

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 10, 2013 11:15 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chelsea Manning, the soldier imprisoned for the biggest leak of classified data in U.S. history, says she is unhappy about being presented as a conscientious objector and pacifist after winning a peace award.

In a statement to Britain's Guardian newspaper, the soldier, formerly known as Bradley Manning, said she did not leak more than 700,000 secret files to the pro-transparency website WikiLeaks because she was motivated by pacifism.

"From my perspective, at least, it's not terribly clear to me that my actions were explicitly done for ‘peace,'" Manning said in a statement published by the Guardian on Wednesday.

"I don't consider myself a 'pacifist,' 'anti-war,' or (especially) a 'conscientious objector,'" she wrote, adding that she saw herself as a "transparency advocate."

Manning, 25, was responding to winning the International Peace Bureau's Sean MacBride Prize last month. The Geneva-based disarmament group cited Manning for exposing war crimes as an act of conscience.

The award was accepted on Manning's behalf by Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel and peace activist. In accepting it, Wright suggested that Manning was "overwhelmed" that the award had recognized "her actions as actions for peace," the Guardian said.

Manning's comments were the soldier's first public statement since being convicted in a court-martial on 20 charges, including espionage and theft. Manning was sentenced in August to 35 years in military prison.

In the statement, Manning said she was not aware of having received the award. But Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, said on his blog later on Wednesday that he had reminded Manning in a phone call that they had discussed the award on three occasions.

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Coombs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The day after being sentenced, Manning said in a statement she was female and wanted to be known as Chelsea. The soldier has launched an unprecedented bid to get female hormone treatment while in prison.

During the trial, Coombs contended that Manning suffered from gender identity disorder.

In the statement, Manning said she has been "trying to decompress and focus on other things after a lengthy and exhausting court-martial process."

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by John Wallace)