Army Private Chelsea Manning said in an interview televised Friday that she acted independently in deciding to leak hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, effectively rebutting the government’s assertion she was solicited to steal and disclose state secrets by the website’s publisher, Julian Assange.
“Anything I’ve done, it’s me. There’s no one else,” Manning, 29, said in a pre-taped interview aired Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” — her first since being released from prison last month after serving seven years behind bars for admittedly uploading classified documents to WikiLeaks.
“No one told me to do this. Nobody directed me to do this,” Manning added. “This is me. It’s on me.”
Manning was arrested while deployed in Iraq in 2010 as an Army intelligence analyst and was convicted three years later for supplying WikiLeaks with about 700,000 Defense and State Department documents, including war logs and diplomatic cables, among other materials. She was sentenced to 35-years in prison in 2013, but had the bulk of her remaining sentence commuted by President Obama days before his term in office expired January 20, 2017.
While President Trump praised WikiLeaks before taking office, his administration has since vowed to take action against Mr. Assange and his website for publishing classified U.S. documents dating back to Manning’s disclosures.
Contrary to the solder’s own claim, however, the Trump administration has argued WikiLeaks solicited Manning to leak state secrets.
WikiLeaks “directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said during an event in April. “These are people who are actively recruiting agents to steal American secrets with the sole intent of destroying the American way of life.”
Military prosecutors previously alleged Mr. Assange had requested specific documents from Manning but were unable to prove during her trial that the publisher had directed her actions.
Mr. Assange did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.