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Chelsea Manning Wants to Serve the Country Again but Not in the Military

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On Thursday, according to documents submitted to the Federal Election Commission, Chelsea Manning has filed her intention to run for a Senate seat, positioning her to challenge Ben Cardin, the two-term Democratic Senator. Manning, a transgender former Army officer, was previously convicted of leaking classified military documents and spent nearly seven years behind bars for the crime.

Manning, 30, is running for a US Senate seat in Maryland as a Democrat, and her FEC filing shows a North Bethesda address.

In 2010, at the time of her arrest, Manning was known as Bradley Manning, though came out as transgender after receiving her sentence under the Espionage and Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts, which involved 35 years in prison.

Before leaving office, then-president Barrack Obama granted Manning clemency, commuting her sentence to time served. Manning was released from the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Manning originally enlisted in 2007, deploying to Iraq two years later while serving as an intelligence analyst.

Her conviction was related to passing more than 700,000 sensitive military documents to Wikileaks, including some related to the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts, State Department cables, and details about prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay. Some of the documents were later published by major media outlets. Only a small portion of the classified information led to the conviction.

After her release, Manning moved to Maryland and, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune, has written on issues related to civil liberties, computer security, free speech, transparency, and transgender rights, including some pieces that were published by The Guardian and on Medium.

Evan Greer, a campaign director for Fight for the Future, a non-profit organization, stated, “Chelsea Manning has fought for freedom and sacrificed for it in ways that few others have.” He continued, “The world is a better place with her as a free woman, and this latest news makes it clear she is only beginning to make her mark on it.”

Cardin, Maryland’s senior senator and ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is overwhelmingly favored to win based on his extensive fundraising base in the state and not being considered particularly vulnerable to a challenge.

Manning’s record does not appear to preclude her from running for Senate, with the primary requirements requiring the person to be at least 30 years old, a US citizen, and a resident of the state in which they are running.

The Democratic primary is scheduled to take place at the end of June.