Harvard withdraws fellowship invitation to Chelsea Manning

Sept 15 (Reuters) - Harvard University on Friday withdrew a fellowship invitation to Chelsea Manning, the transgender U.S. Army soldier who was convicted of leaking classified data, after two leaders in the U.S. intelligence community distanced themselves from the school.

Manning, 29, was released in May from a U.S. military prison in Kansas where she had been held for passing secrets to the WikiLeaks website in the biggest breach of classified data in the history of the United States.

The Harvard Kennedy School of government announced on Wednesday that it had invited the controversial figure to be a visiting fellow and speak at a forum.

The invitation to speak still stands, Harvard Kennedy Dean Douglas Elmendorf said in a statement.

"I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility," Elmendorf said. "I see more clearly now that many people view a visiting fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations."

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ABC NEWS - ABC News' 'Nightline' co-anchor Juju Chang sits down with Chelsea Manning for the first exclusive television interview since Manning's prison release. The interview will air on an upcoming special edition of Nightline, 'Declassified: The Chelsea Manning Story.' (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) CHELSEA MANNING
U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning, who was born male but identifies as a woman, imprisoned for handing over classified files to pro-transparency site WikiLeaks, is pictured dressed as a woman in this 2010 photograph obtained on August 14, 2013.Courtesy U.S. Army/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Chelsea Manning and Gavin Grimm ride with the ACLU in the 2017 Pride March on June 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
People hold signs calling for the release of imprisoned wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning while marching in a gay pride parade in San Francisco, California June 28, 2015. Manning has appealed to an Army court to overturn her court-martial conviction, a court filing released on Thursday said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo
A placard showing Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden photos is seen during the Easter March for Peace in Roemerberg, Frankfurt, Germany, 06 April 2015. Some 2000 demonstrators gathered before the City Hall to advocate for peace, under the motto 'Stop war and war propaganda - Solve conflicts peacefully'. Thousands have gathered to participate in over 80 events for peace during the Easter period in Germany. (Photo by Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images)
ODEONSPLATZ, MUNICH, BAVARIA, GERMANY - 2015/10/10: Demonstrators gather to protest against surveillance especially by the NSA. Amnesty International demands Obama to hand over his peace Nobel Price to Chelsea manning. (Photo by Michael Trammer/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse during his court martial at Fort Meade in Maryland, August, 20, 2013. Manning, 25, the soldier convicted of giving classified U.S. files to WikiLeaks, could face as up to 90 years in prison for giving more than 700,000 classified files, battlefield videos and diplomatic cables to the pro-transparency website. Prosecutors asked for 60 years, while the defense asked the judge not to rob him of his youth. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW MILITARY)
Demonstration for Chelsea Manning in London, England, United Kingdom. Chelsea Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning) is a United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly three-quarters of a million classified or unclassified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents. Manning was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years imprisonment, with the possibility of parole in the eighth year, and to be dishonorably discharged from the Army. Manning is a trans woman who, in a statement the day after sentencing, said she had felt female since childhood, wanted to be known as Chelsea, and desired to begin hormone replacement therapy. From early life and through much of her Army life, Manning was known as Bradley; she was diagnosed with gender identity disorder while in the Army. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Demonstration for Chelsea Manning in London, England, United Kingdom. Chelsea Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning) is a United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly three-quarters of a million classified or unclassified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents. Manning was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years imprisonment, with the possibility of parole in the eighth year, and to be dishonorably discharged from the Army. Manning is a trans woman who, in a statement the day after sentencing, said she had felt female since childhood, wanted to be known as Chelsea, and desired to begin hormone replacement therapy. From early life and through much of her Army life, Manning was known as Bradley; she was diagnosed with gender identity disorder while in the Army. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
ABC NEWS - ABC News' 'Nightline' co-anchor Juju Chang sits down with Chelsea Manning for the first exclusive television interview since Manning's prison release. The interview will air on an upcoming special edition of Nightline, 'Declassified: The Chelsea Manning Story.' (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) CHELSEA MANNING
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Chelsea Manning and Gavin Grimm ride during the 2017 Pride March in the West Village on June 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
ABC NEWS - ABC News' 'Nightline' co-anchor Juju Chang sits down with Chelsea Manning for the first exclusive television interview since Manning's prison release. The interview will air on an upcoming special edition of Nightline, 'Declassified: The Chelsea Manning Story.' (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) JUJU CHANG, CHELSEA MANNING
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The announcement came after U.S. CIA Director Mike Pompeo canceled a speaking engagement at the university on Thursday over the invitation to Manning, whom he called an "American traitor" in a letter explaining his decision.

"My conscience and duty to the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency will not permit me to betray their trust by appearing to support Harvard's decision with my appearance," he wrote to the school.

Manning said on Twitter that she was "honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting Harvard fellow. They chill marginalized voices under CIA pressure."

Also on Thursday, Michael Morell, former deputy director and acting director of the CIA, resigned as a senior fellow at the university, media reported.

"Good," Manning tweeted after Morell resigned.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Catherine Evans and Lisa Von Ahn)

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