Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. soldier imprisoned for leaking U.S. diplomatic cables and copious evidence of war crimes, has been awarded a cash prize in recognition of her “sacrifice and bravery,” it was announced Monday.
“The award recognizes the exceptional importance of the disclosures by Manning in revealing the illegal practice of torture and detention, and in increasing the public understanding of the impact of war on civilians,” said a press release from Blueprint for Free Speech, which presented the award at the offices of the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London. The group also recognized John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who revealed the illegal use of torture, and Dr. Raj Mattu, a British cardiologist who exposed unsafe conditions threatening patients’ lives at state hospitals.
The three winners will split a cash prize of 15,000 British pounds, or US$7,200 per person.
Manning is the most famous of the three. In 2010, the former Army intelligence officer provided over 200,000 diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, exposing among other things the fact that the U.S. military was handing detainees over to the Iraqi government despite the knowledge they would be tortured. Manning also leaked video showing U.S. soldiers killing at least a 10 unarmed Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists, as well as evidence that the U.S. government’s internal count of civilians killed by the war in Iraq was much higher than publicly acknowledged.
“Obviously Chelsea is incarcerated at the moment,” Rosie Beaumont-Thomas, a Blueprint for Free Speech spokesperson, told teleSUR by phone from the award ceremony in London. In 2013, a U.S. military tribunal sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison. Asked how she would receive her cash prize, Beaumont-Thomas explained that “it will be given to her chosen personal representative that looks after her while she’s currently in prison.”
Four other whistleblowers were also recognized: Ari Danikas, a former South African police officer who revealed extrajudicial killings by law enforcement; Visnja Marilovic, an accountant who exposed fraud at the Bosnian corporation Skenderija Centre; Howard Shaw, a former British police officer who disclosed wrongdoing at Scotland Yard; and a whistleblower known only as “Witness K,” a former Australian intelligence officer who revealed his government had tapped the cabinet rooms of Timor Leste, a poor nation that was negotiating an oil and gas treaty with Australia.
“Whistleblowing is the right to dissent from wrongdoing,” said writer and academic Suelette Dreyfus, one of the three judges who awarded the prizes. “We are proud to publicly acknowledge the bravery of these tremendous people, who have endured persecution and great personal sacrifice because they chose to reveal wrongdoing and corruption in the public interest.”
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