Saturday 23 September 2017

Harvard scraps title for Chelsea Manning after CIA chief's protest

CIA Director Mike Pompeo was due to talk on Thursday (AP)
CIA Director Mike Pompeo was due to talk on Thursday (AP)

Harvard University has reversed its decision to name Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow, a day after CIA chief Mike Pompeo scrapped an appearance over the designation for the soldier who was convicted of leaking classified information.

In a statement posted on the university's website, Harvard Kennedy School dean Douglas Elmendorf said naming Ms Manning a visiting fellow was a mistake even though, he said, the title carries no special honour.

He added that the former soldier is still invited to spend a day at the school and speak to students.

Ms Manning responded on Twitter, writing that Harvard was chilling "marginalised voices under @cia pressure".

Mr Pompeo had been scheduled to appear on Thursday to discuss allegations of Russian involvement in last year's presidential election, the nuclear stand-off with North Korea and other global security concerns.

Minutes after the event was due to begin, Mr Elmendorf took the stage and told the audience Mr Pompeo was not there and would not speak.

Mr Pompeo, who has a law degree from Harvard, said he did not make the decision lightly but that he would have betrayed the trust of CIA employees if he appeared.

Chelsea Manning was released from a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 17 after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former president Barack Obama in his final days in office.

Ms Manning, a 29-year-old transgender woman formerly known as Bradley Manning, said in a recent interview that she was prompted to give 700,000 military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks because of the "death, destruction and mayhem" she saw as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq.

Mr Elmendorf wrote: "We invited Chelsea Manning to spend a day at the Kennedy School. On that basis, we also named Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow. We did not intend to honour her in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honour or endorse any fellow."

He apologised to Ms Manning and to "many concerned people" he said he had heard from "for not recognising upfront the full implications of our original invitation".

Ms Manning responded on Twitter, writing that she was "honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting @harvard fellow".

AP

Press Association

Editors Choice

Also in World News