POLITICS
10/09/2013 01:59 pm ET | Updated Oct 10, 2013

Chelsea Manning 'Shocked' By Peace Prize, Says She Doesn't Consider Herself A Pacifist

NEW YORK -- WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning has expressed her shock that she was "left out of the loop" about an activist accepting a peace prize on her behalf, stating that she is "not a pacifist."

Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was given a 35-year sentence in August for releasing government documents. She is currently incarcerated at an Army prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

In a statement released by The Guardian on Wednesday, Manning says she was not informed when retired Army colonel and peace activist Ann Wright received the Sean MacBride Peace Prize on her behalf.

And Manning's letter provides perhaps the clearest statement yet of her political positions and motivations for releasing 700,000 sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks.

"From my perspective at least, it's not terribly clear to me that my actions were explicitly done for 'peace.' I don't consider myself a 'pacifist,' 'anti-war,' or (especially) a 'conscientious objector,'" Manning writes in the letter, dated October 7. "I'm a 'transparency advocate.'"

Manning writes that her lawyer, David Coombs, did not tell her about the prize, despite Wright's statement to the contrary in her acceptance speech.

Coombs told the Guardian he had informed Manning about the award and he believed she may have confused it with another event. Wright told the paper that she apologized to Manning.

Manning has been locked up since she was arrested in May 2010. With her only able to speak through her lawyer, activists have struggled with questions about how to represent issues like her gender.

Emma Cape, campaign organizer for the Private Manning Support Network, said that her group had coordinated Wright's appearance at the award ceremony but that only Coombs was in contact with Manning.

"Obviously there's a tangled message going around," Colin Archer, Secretary General of the International Peace Bureau, which gave the award, told HuffPost from Geneva. He said the IPB had coordinated plans to award Manning the prize through Cape's group.

"We were trying to give support for somebody who was very courageous," Archer said. He added that "it's not a pacifist prize, it's a prize for something that contributes to peace."

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m. -- In a blog post published Wednesday afternoon, Manning's lawyer David Coombs said he had discussed the letter published in The Guardian with his client and reminded her they had discussed the award on multiple occasions, including before Wright accepted it on her behalf:

After being reminded of these conversations, Chelsea indicated that she did, in fact, remember the award and our discussions about it. She told me that she got confused when she recently received mail about the award, and assumed that people were writing to her about a new award. Chelsea told me that she has been feeling isolated and out of touch with the outside world during the indoctrination period at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, which is what led to her confusion over this issue. Due to this confusion, Chelsea said she felt the need to write her letter. She told me that she is sorry if her letter caused any offense to the International Peace Bureau, Col. Wright, or her supporters.

Anti-war activists have been some of Manning's most outspoken supporters since her arrest, and the Private Manning Support Network largely bankrolled her legal defense. Coombs' blog post may have been an attempt to smooth things over with some of Manning's biggest constituencies.

Adding to Wednesday's confusion, Manning said in the initial letter posted to the Guardian that "Statements or positions filtered through my attorney or other representative should be considered unofficial." Coombs said in his blog post that Manning was now reconsidering that position.

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