Tuesday 14 August 2018

Chelsea Manning 'safe' after alarming window ledge tweet, says friend

Chelsea Manning attends a discussion at the media convention
Chelsea Manning attends a discussion at the media convention "Republica" in Berlin. A close friend and colleague of Chelsea Manning said Monday, May 28, that the convicted leaker of government secrets and longshot candidate for U.S. Senate is safe after a photo on her Twitter account apparently showed the 30-year-old woman standing on the edge of an upper-story window ledge. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

David McFadden

Transgender Chelsea Manning, who leaked US government secrets, is safe after a photo on her Twitter account apparently showed her standing on the edge of an upper-storey window ledge, a friend has said.

The photo was posted with the words "I'm sorry", sent shortly after a separate tweet that said: "im not really cut out for this world."

The tweets did not make clear where the photo was taken, and Ms Manning's friends declined to say.

The tweets were deleted after about 10 minutes, followed by a message on her account saying Ms Manning was OK and asked people to "please give her some space".

Kelly Wright, a friend who also is the communications director for her Senate bid, said the 30-year-old transgender woman now needs the "space to heal".

She did not reply when asked if Ms Manning was seeking professional help.

When asked whether the Senate campaign had been suspended, Ms Wright wrote: "Negative."

In her text message, Ms Wright said Ms Manning's adjustment to life outside prison has been "extremely difficult."

"I have seen firsthand and up close the violence inflicted on her by years of imprisonment, solitary confinement and torture," she said.

"This is made worse by the impossibly high expectations our society sets for public figures, especially on social media."

Ms Manning recently told attendees at a Berlin tech conference she felt a "kind of cult of personality" foisted upon her that she found really intimidating" and "overwhelming."

In a recent interview with the Associated Press at her Maryland apartment, Ms Manning was emotionally raw, her eyes welling up at times when discussing her motivations.

When asked about her lengthy stints in solitary confinement, Ms Manning said she occasionally wakes up panicked that she is back in the cage in Kuwait where she was first jailed, or incarcerated at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, where a UN official concluded she had been subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment".

She said she had to work hard to overcome anxiety and told AP it was "becoming increasingly clear" to her "just how deep the wounds are" from her years behind bars.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment, saying the company did not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.

Ms Manning, who makes her living on the speaking circuit, is fresh off an appearance at an international business conference in Montreal.

When Ms Wright was asked if Ms Manning was in Montreal when the photo was posted from the ledge last night, she would only say: "I'm not going to disclose her location due to safety concerns."

Ms Manning has been free for over a year after former President Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence, the lengthiest ever for revealing US government secrets.

She has acknowledged leaking more than 700,000 military and State Department documents to anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks in 2010.

She said she wanted to spark debate about US foreign policy, and she has been portrayed as both a hero and a traitor.

Known as Bradley Manning at the time of her arrest, she came out as transgender after her 2013 court-martial.

She was barred from growing her hair long in prison, and was approved for hormone therapy only after litigation.

The high-profile transgender activist and convicted leaker is now in the midst of a highly unlikely Democratic primary bid for the US Senate in her adopted state of Maryland.

She has claimed she is genuine in her aim to unseat Senator Ben Cardin, a Democratic powerbroker in the blue state who is seeking his third Senate term.

But last week, she tweeted the primaries were "rigged" and there was no point in voting.

Press Association

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