Chelsea Manning, a transgender former U.S. Army soldier imprisoned for seven years after being convicted of leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks, has filed papers to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland as a Democrat.
According to a Federal Election Commission filing, Chelsea Elizabeth Manning filed her candidacy papers on Thursday. Manning is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, also a Democrat, who is running for his third term.
The primary election for the 2018 Maryland senate race will be held on June 26, 2018.
Manning was convicted in 2013 by a military tribunal under the Espionage and Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts for releasing over 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks. At the time, Manning was a 22-year-old United States Army private named Bradley Manning, and she served seven years of a 35-year sentence. President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence to time served as one of his final acts in office.
The information Manning disclosed included low-level battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo prison camp detainee profiles and U.S. diplomatic correspondence. Manning pleaded guilty to some charges but was acquitted of the most serious charge brought against her: aiding the enemy.
Manning has long maintained that she leaked the documents in order to spark public debate. In an exclusive 2017 interview with ABC’s Juju Chang for a special edition of Nightline, Manning said, “My intention was to draw attention to this … and do the right thing.”
Manning continued, “And I struggled with that, but the intention was very much like, ‘This is about improving the country. This is about improving our standing in the world, this is about improving everything.’ And maybe this can start a debate on that.”
Mere days after Manning was sentenced, she came out as transgender on Aug. 22, 2013. The military would not provide her with any treatment for her gender dysphoria, which Manning claimed resulted in her increased distress. At the time, her ACLU lawyer filed a lawsuit on her behalf in order to receive gender transition related health care.
Cardin's office and Manning did not immediately respond to requests for comment.