WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Harvard's Kennedy School of Government has rescinded a visiting fellowship it offered to Chelsea Manning, a former US Army soldier who was convicted by court martial in 2013, after disclosing about 750,000 sensitive, military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. The school's move is after it faced backlash from top national security officials.
Former acting CIA Director Michael Morrel had resigned as a senior fellow at Harvard after the university announced hiring the transgender former US Marine as a visiting fellow.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo canceled a talk at the Harvard Kennedy School in protest against hiring Manning.
Douglas Elmendorf, dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, admitted that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, and took responsibility for it. 'Therefore, we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow-and the perceived honor that it implies to some people-while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum,' he said in a statement Friday.
Manning was one of four Visiting Fellows for the 2017-18 academic year that the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School announced Wednesday.
Kansas City Mayor Sylvester 'Sly' James, Jr., former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and Robby Mook, a CNN political commentator who was the election campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, were the others invited to join Harvard community as a Visiting Fellow.
As part of the Institute's program of engaging students in discourse on topical issues, Manning was supposed to deal with 'issues of LGBTQ identity in the military.'
She is still welcome to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak at the school's John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, the dean said.
On Twitter, Manning accused the school of suppressing 'marginalized voices' and caving to pressure from the CIA.
In a resignation letter sent to Elmendorf, Morell said he could not be part of an organization that 'honors a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.'
'Ms. Manning was found guilty of 17 serious crimes, including six counts of espionage, for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, an entity that CIA Director Mike Pompeo says operates like an adversarial foreign intelligence service,' Morell wrote.
Pompeo stressed that he didn't take issue with Manning's gender identity, but said he believes it is shameful for Harvard 'to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.'
Chelsea E. Manning, a transgender U.S. Solider, is a Washington D.C. based network security expert. Following her court martial conviction the then President Obama had commuted her 35-year sentence, citing it as 'disproportionate' to the penalties faced by other whistleblowers. She served seven years in prison.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX