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LISTEN: Chelsea Manning in Her Own Words

LISTEN: Chelsea Manning in Her Own Words


A new podcast allows the imprisoned leaker of secrets to share her story for the first time. 

For the first time, Chelsea Manning is telling her story in her own words, in a podcast. There's only one catch: It's not with her own voice.

Restrictions imposed by the military prison where Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking government documents prevent her from making any recording from behind bars, including both video, audio, or even still photographs.

Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer tells The Advocate she worked with Amnesty International to have trans actress Michelle Hendley of Boy Meets Girl fame record Manning's words.

The convicted Army intelligence officer announced the podcast via Twitter, which like everything else involving Manning is done outside the prison using words that she dictates.

In the podcast, Manning reveals her feelings about being incarcerated for leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks, which supporters claim exposed some of the U.S. government's abuses of power.

"I feel like I've been stored away for all this time without a voice or the ability to show my love and support to the folks who need it. I feel like there's so much of a contribution to society that I could be making. I spend every day looking forward to the hope that one day I can give that a go," said Hendley, speaking Manning's words.

Manning was able to hear the podcast, even though she cannot record one, and described her feelings hearing Hendley speak her words in a phone conversation with Greer.

"I have to say, I cried a few times listening to this. Hearing her speak and tell the story. She sounds like me. It sounds like the way I would tell my story," Manning told Greer. Greer's group, Fight for the Future, is a digital rights organization that has been supporting the transgender whistleblower.

One of The Advocate's40 Under 40 for 2015, Manning has been incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since 2011. From inside prison she blogs for Medium and also tweets.

She is provided hormone treatment, gender-appropriate prison garb, and cosmetics. But even though her female name and pronouns are recognized by prison authorities, she has been ordered to keep her hair short according to standards applied to all men in the Army, a decision that Manning described in a letter she wrote to The Advocate November 18 as "devastating and humiliating."

On its website, Amnesty International tells the story that led to this podcast: "Chelsea wrote to us and told us about her life in prison now, as well as the back story -- how she came to be who she is and do what she did."

"She is spending decades in prison because she shared information that she thought could shed a light on potential abuses and prompt meaningful public debate on the conflict," Amnesty International wrote in a statement calling for her immediate release. "Meanwhile, the US government has not investigated the abuses she exposed -- while Chelsea has paid a high price for putting that information in the public realm."

"At Amnesty, we're calling on US authorities to free Chelsea immediately."

Listen to the podcast below.

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