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Five Groundbreaking Leaks That Landed Chelsea Manning in Prison

© AP Photo / U.S. ArmyChelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning - Sputnik International
On May 17, US whistleblower Chelsea Manning is being released from prison, after her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for violating the US Espionage Act in 2013 by leaking approximately 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks for publication online.

Most of the data shared by Manning was focused on the Middle East and Afghanistan as well as US military activities in the region. Here are the top five revelations that turned Manning into a human rights defender and transparency advocate, partly triggering the 2011 Arab Spring in the Middle Eastern countries.

1. Baghdad airstrikes and collateral murder

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One of the most infamous videos published by WikiLeaks thanks to Manning was footage showing a US Army attack on a group of men in Baghdad. Two of them were Reuters journalists whose cameras were mistakenly interpreted as weapons. The US helicopters also targeted a van that stopped to help the injured people.

As result of the attack 12 people were killed and two children were seriously injured.

The way the two soldiers on the tape mockingly spoke about what happened was particularly shocking for the international community. One of the men said: "Hahaha. I hit 'em."

And another responded: "Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards."

2. Abu Omar abduction

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Abu Omar — an Islamic cleric — was kidnapped by US officials in 2003 in Milan, Italy, over alleged links to fundamentalist networks. He was then transferred to Egypt, where the local authorities allegedly kept him in prison, interrogated and tortured him, until finally releasing him in April 2004.

Following Manning's leaks, it became known that the US government exerted pressure on Italian authorities forcing them to drop the investigation into the case. Washington threatened Italy with a drastic deterioration in bilateral relations if the country continued its inquiry into the case and issued arrest warrants for the CIA agents involved.

3. Release of diplomatic cables data and civilian deaths

Manning was also responsible for the "Cablegate" leak of 251,287 State Department cables leading to shocking revelations about civilian deaths resulting from US military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

For instance, one cable revealed that 66,081 civilian deaths had been logged out of a total of 109,000 deaths between 2004 and 2009. According to the leaked data, over 15,000 civilians had died in previously unknown incidents.

4. Guantanamo Bay files
Manning also helped publish hundreds of secret files relating to prisoners at the United States' Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Afghanistan.

The data showed that over 150 innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilians were detained and abused for years without any charges. The youngest of the detainees was 14 years old, the eldest — 89.

5. Granai airstrike

In March 2010, Manning presumably shared footage with WikiLeaks of the Granai airstrike in Afghanistan conducted by the US armed forces.
The airstrike took place on May 4, 2009, in the village of Granai and claimed the lives of 86 to 147 Afghan civilians. However, the video has never been published and was later accidently destroyed.

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