I'm both thrilled and proud about our announcement today of a $60,000 donation in matching funds to Chelsea Manning's legal defense. First Look Media, publisher of The Intercept, is donating $50,000 of that amount through its Press Freedom Litigation fund, with the other $10,000 donated by me. Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) -- the group co-founded by Daniel Ellsberg, Laura Poitras, John Cusack, me and others, whose board of directors now includes Edward Snowden -- will oversee and manage the matching fund campaign. FPF has agreed to waive all commissions, ensuring that 100 percent of donations goes to Manning's legal fights.
As I've argued for years, Chelsea Manning is one of this generation's greatest heroes. Daniel Ellsberg has called her "the personification of the word whistleblower." Originally convinced of the noble intentions of the U.S. government generally and the Iraq War specifically, she enlisted in the U.S. Army. While deployed in Baghdad, she had access to troves of truth-revealing documents, which fundamentally changed her views and which she believed the global public also had the right to see.
Knowingly risking her own liberty, she gave those documents (none of which was top secret) to WikiLeaks for publication in order to trigger "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms," as she said during what she thought was a private chat with someone who turned government informant. The first Manning/WikiLeaks release -- a video showing U.S. forces gunning down civilians along with two Reuters journalists while the soldiers chuckled and joked -- sparked global outrage and debate.
To this day, the materials she made public -- which revealed massive wrongdoing, deceit and criminality -- are centrally featured in journalism about critical stories in the public interest all over the world. These disclosures played a role in sparking the Arab Spring by exposing corruption of that region's tyrants as well as thwarting U.S. efforts to stay longer in Iraq by documenting brutal war crimes committed there by American forces.