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Chelsea Manning announces run for US Senate with video on Twitter

Imprisoned leaker and activist confirms plan to run as a Democrat in Maryland with video hashtagged #WeGotThis, saying: We need someone willing to fight

Chelsea Manning announces run for US Senate with video on Twitter

Imprisoned leaker and activist confirms plan to run as a Democrat in Maryland with video hashtagged #WeGotThis, saying: We need someone willing to fight

After seven years in military prison for carrying out one of the largest leaks in US history and coming out as a transgender woman, Chelsea Manning is embarking on the next stage in her epic journey: running for a seat in the US Senate.

The former US army private, who was held in military lockup for far longer than any other official leaker in modern times, has declared in a federal filing her intention to run in this years Democratic primaries for a Maryland Senate seat. Now 30, she confirmed she was entering the race in a video posted on Twitter on Sunday under her now established internet trademark #WeGotThis.

We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, of hate, Manning said in the video dressed in black and holding a red rose. Over grainy shots of riot police assailing protesters and of Donald Trump in the Oval Office, she went on: We dont need more or better leaders, we need someone willing to fight.

Manning also tweeted a link for campaign donations.

The audacious decision to stand for one of the most exalted political positions in the country less than eight months after she was released from Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas underlines how rapidly Manning has taken to civilian life. Though it has not all been plain sailing she was turned back from the Canadian border in September, having been refused entry she has embraced her new role as an LGBTQ and progressive celebrity.

Having spent the best part of a decade with no direct access to the internet, she has become a Twitter star with some 319,000 followers. She fills her Twitter feed with rainbow emoji and upbeat refrains that should translate easily into campaign slogans, including We can do better and We have more power than they do a reference to the Trump firmament.

Despite these advantages, Mannings challenge will be steep. In the Democratic primary she will face Ben Cardin, who has served two six-year terms in the Senate and has built a name for himself on the chambers foreign affairs committee as a dogged investigator of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Cardins work on the committee has brought him to focus on an organization which overlaps with Mannings personal history: WikiLeaks. The open information website, run by Julian Assange out of his place of exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, released thousands of emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the presidential race.

US intelligence agencies have asserted that the emails were hacked by the Russian government in a brazen attempt to distort the election in favour of Trump.

Manning transferred a vast stash of about 700,000 embassy cables, war logs and videos to WikiLeaks in 2010. Though at the time the soldier and Assange appeared to have forged an internet friendship, Manning has since moved away from him and had nothing further to do with WikiLeaks after the initial transfer of leaked data.

Whatever the outcome of the primaries, Mannings decision to stand is likely to cement her reputation as one of the most arresting new voices to emerge in the so-called resistance to Trump. In that regard, there is no love lost.

Trump has been consistently antagonistic towards the former soldier. In January 2017, after Barack Obama commuted Mannings 35-year sentence and ordered her release, Trump tweeted: Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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