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Harvard University has rescinded a visiting fellowship offer to Chelsea Manning, the former military analyst jailed for leaking U.S. military documents, after the university received backlash from CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Manning, whose sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama, was one of four visiting fellows offered positions at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. As part of the position, Manning would have spent a day at the Kennedy School, met with students, and given remarks and a question-and-answer session.
“I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility,” Douglas W. Elmendorf, the school’s dean, wrote. Elmendorf said Manning would still have the opportunity to speak at the university.
Elmendorf said many people thought the title was “honorific” and the school did not intend to honor Manning.
On Thursday, the Central Intelligence Agency posted a letter from Pompeo, who has a degree from Harvard, on its Twitter account announcing that the director had withdrawn from the forum because Manning, who came out as transgender while imprisoned, has been named a visiting fellow, adding that he viewed her as an “American traitor.”
“Let me be clear, this has nothing to do with Ms. Manning’s identity as a transgender person,” Pompeo wrote. “It has everything to do with her identity as a traitor to the United States of America and my loyalty to the officers of the CIA.”
Manning responded to Harvard’s decision on Twitter, saying the school gave into pressure by the CIA.
Manning was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 35 years in prison after she provided thousands of documents to WikiLeaks in 2013. Obama commuted her sentence before leaving office and she was released from prison in May.
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).