Slideshow: Eight Whistleblowers Charged Under the Espionage Act

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Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, MD, on June 25, 2012, after a pretrial hearing. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Pfc. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning admitted to leaking 700,000 government documents to Wikileaks, including videos of air strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq in which civilians were killed. Manning said one of the videos, from 2007, was particularly disturbing to her — it showed American Apache helicopters killing a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists, and then opening fire on a van that arrived to help the victims. Manning noted the “seemingly delightful blood lust” of the airmen.

Manning said in February that her goal in releasing the materials was to show the public “what happens and why it happens.” “I believed if the public — in particular the American public — had access to the information” in the reports, “this could spark a debate about foreign policy in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said.

In 2010, while on leave, Manning first tried to leak materials to The Washington Post, but felt the reporter she spoke with was not interested. She then left a message with the ombudsman’s office at The New York Times which was not returned. So she uploaded the files to WikiLeaks. She was arrested on May 29, 2010; in August 2013, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

John Light is a reporter and producer for the Moyers team. His work has appeared at The Atlantic, Grist, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, Vox and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. He’s a graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @LightTweeting.

Lauren Feeney is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and multimedia journalist whose work has appeared on air and online at PBS, Al Jazeera English and other outlets. A former producer for Moyers & Company, she was a contributor for PBS’ Need to Know and led web teams for Wide Angle and Women, War & Peace. She is a graduate of Bard College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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