Chelsea Manning to run for US senate in Maryland

Ex-army leaker will run as Democrat and will likely challenge party favourite Ben Cardin

Chelsea Manning, the former US army soldier who served seven years in military prison for leaking classified data, is seeking the Democratic party's nomination for the US senate seat from Maryland. Video: Reuters

 

Chelsea Manning intends to run for the US Senate in Maryland, returning the transgender former soldier to the spotlight after her conviction for leaking classified documents and her early release from military prison.

Ms Manning (30) filed her statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, listing an apartment in North Bethesda as her address.

She is running as a Democrat and will likely challenge two-term Senator Ben Cardin in the primary. The state’s senior senator is an overwhelming favourite to win.

Known as Bradley Manning at the time of her 2010 arrest, the former army intelligence analyst was convicted of leaking more than 700,000 military and US state department documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, leading to her being hailed as a traitor as well as a courageous hero.

Ms Manning came out as transgender after being sentenced to 35 years in prison. Former president Barack Obama granted Ms Manning clemency before leaving office last year.

Ms Manning would not be the first transgender candidate to challenge a sitting member of Congress.

Ms Manning was held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she attempted suicide twice, according to her lawyers.

Mr Obama’s decision to commute Ms Manning’s sentence to about seven years drew strong criticism from members of Congress and others, with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the move “just outrageous.”

When Ms Manning was released in May, she spoke of being eager to define her future - but made no mention of politics.

“I’m figuring things out right now — which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me,” she wrote.

She added: “I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past.”

The Oklahoma native had planned to move to Maryland, where she has an aunt. She has been registered to vote at the apartment in North Bethesda since mid-August, according to the Maryland board of elections.

In September, Ms Manning spoke at the annual conference for The Nantucket Project in Massachusetts, a venture founded to bring together creative thinkers to uncover ideas.

Her appearance came just after Harvard University reversed its decision to name Ms Manning a visiting fellow.

CIA director Mike Pompeo had scrapped a planned appearance over the title for Ms Manning, calling her an “American traitor.”

Ms Manning told the audience in Massachusetts that Harvard’s decision signalled to her that it’s a “police state” and it’s not possible to engage in actual political discourse in academic institutions.

“I’m not ashamed of being disinvited,” she said. “I view that just as much of an honoured distinction as the fellowship itself.” –PA