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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Iraq war whistleblower Chelsea Manning seeks US Senate seat

Ms Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Chelsea Manning will challenge Democrat Ben Cardin who has served two terms. Steven Senne / AP
Chelsea Manning will challenge Democrat Ben Cardin who has served two terms. Steven Senne / AP

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning, jailed for leaking classified information in the United States, is seeking election in the state of Maryland, a document seen on Saturday says.

The federal election commission document, filed on Thursday, lists Chelsea Elizabeth Manning of North Bethesda, Maryland, as a Democrat candidate for the United States senate.

Ms Manning, now 30, was an army intelligence analyst sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The revelations by Ms Manning exposed covered-up misdeeds and possible crimes by US troops and allies.

Her actions made Ms Manning a hero to anti-war and anti-secrecy activists but US establishment figures branded her a traitor.

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Ms Manning confirmed she was running on Sunday, posting a campaign video on her Twitter account.

The video features a voice over from the whistleblower. Running over images of protests, rallies, and US president Donald Trump, Ms Manning says: “we live in trying times, times of fear, of suppression, hate. We don’t need more or better leaders, we need someone willing to fight. We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. They won’t support us, they won’t compromise. We need to stop expecting that our systems will some how fix themselves”.

The video then shows Ms Manning, dressed head to toe in black and holding a red rose. The voice over continues: “We need to actually take the reigns of power from them. We need to challenge them at every level. We need to fix this. We don’t need them anymore. We can do better. You’re damned right we got this.”

The video then highlights the hashtag Ms Manning is tying to her campaign: #wegotthis.

Ms Manning also posted a link to a website where supporters could donate to her campaign.

Then-US president Barack Obama commuted Ms Manning's sentence, leading to her release in May.

The Constitution does allow US citizens who have a criminal record to run for Congress. The only qualifications to run for US Senate in Maryland is to be at least 30-years-old, to have held US citizenship for at least nine years, and the candidate is required to live in the state at the time of the election.

The Democratic Senate incumbent is Ben Cardin, who was first elected in 2006 and is the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ms Manning is a transgender woman, and was known as Bradley Manning at the time of the leaks.

During her incarceration Ms Manning battled for, and won, the right to start hormone treatment. On Twitter she identifies herself as a "trans woman," and carries the slogan: "Make powerful people angry."

In elections last year, transgender candidate Danika Roem was elected to the Virginia state House of Delegates, becoming the first openly transgender lawmaker in the United States.

President Donald Trump has labelled Ms Manning a traitor.