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Chelsea Manning Chronicles Her Incarceration, 140 Characters At A Time On Twitter

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Originally published at MintPress News.

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning may be facing a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks, but she won’t let that silence her voice.

The documents and video she leaked, including the infamous “Collateral Murder” footage, revealed American war crimes in Iraq and other countries.

She’s already become a writer at the Guardian, condemning CIA torture and the leaders who gave the orders in a recent editorial. Now, she’s joined the social media generation with a popular Twitter account, @xychelsea. Manning’s Twitter has almost 50,000 followers just weeks after it became active, even though she’s only able to tweet sporadically from behind bars at a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

In response to questions from her readers, Manning recently tweeted an image of a handwritten letter, explaining how she posts her tweets and confirming her identity to the world with the hashtag, “#itsreallyme.”

In the letter, she reveals that she created the Twitter account two years ago, but only recently found the strength to begin tweeting amid improvements in prison conditions and medical care. Just this past February, Manning, who is transgender, won a legal battle to receive hormone replacement therapy in prison.

“I wanted to set up this account a while ago,” she wrote in the letter, “but I didn’t really have the time or energy to until I began to start taking hormones a few months ago.”

With the Guardian as a platform for her political views, Manning seems to be focused on sharing her human side through Twitter’s 140 characters. In one tweet, she explained how she came to choose the name “Chelsea”during her transition to openly living as a woman. In another series of tweets, she describes her daily routine and mentions some of her favorite media.

Her day begins early, and features little wasted time:

Manning finds time to exercise nearly every other day and watches limited amounts of TV:

She takes time to enrich her mind before an early bedtime:

And she keeps her spirits high by listening to some of her favorite electronic music.

Manning’s conditions of incarceration have gradually improved in the five years since the release of “Collateral Murder” and her initial imprisonment, when many described her treatment as torture.

Like other transgender and LGBT inmates, she still faces considerable struggles in what ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio called her “fight for her right to exist.” It was only in March that her legal team forced the government to use the correct gender pronouns in legal documents.

Though she remains in prison, she also remains a strong voice for freedom and transparency in government. On April 10, Glenn Greenwald reported, “She looks, sounds, and is great.”

She even tweeted a brief message of hope on Wednesday:

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