Former Army analyst Chelsea Manning gave her first televised interview Friday since her release last month from prison, where she served seven years for her role in leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
When asked whether she felt she owed an apology to the American people for conducting what is considered the largest breach of classified data in U.S. history, Manning said she had accepted responsibility for her actions.
“No one told me to do this, no one directed me to do this,” Manning told Nightline’s Juju Chang. “This is me. It’s on me.”
Manning said the information she was had the job of reviewing, including evidence of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, prompted her to leak the documents—a move she said she hoped would spark a public debate, and not one she believed would threaten national security.
“We’re getting all this information and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem,” Manning said. “I stopped seeing just statistics and information and I started seeing people. Counterinsurgency warfare is not a simple thing, it’s not as simple as good guys versus bad guys. It’s a mess.”
She added: “I have a responsibility to the public. We all have a responsibility.”