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Online petition denounces decision to revoke Chelsea Manning’s Harvard fellowship

Chelsea Manning addressed an audience during a Nantucket forum on Sunday.
Steven Senne/Associated Press
Chelsea Manning addressed an audience during a Nantucket forum on Sunday.

An online petition supported by five Harvard University graduates denouncing the decision to revoke Chelsea Manning’s fellowship has gained 15,000 signatures, and the results will be presented to the Kennedy School of Government on Friday.

“By revoking Chelsea Manning’s fellowship, you have disgraced the Harvard Kennedy School. By caving in to pressure from present and former top officials of the CIA, you have jettisoned academic freedom,’’ the online petition states in part.

Manning is the transgender woman and former US Army soldier convicted and sentenced to serve 35 years in prison for releasing classified material, a sentence that was commuted by former president Barack Obama.

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The Kennedy School had extended a fellowship offer to Manning but changed course and revoked it after two top CIA officials severed their ties to the Harvard-affiliated center to protest Manning’s inclusion.

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The five Harvard graduates who said they are supporting the petition are Victor Wallis, Margaret Morganroth Gullette, David Gullette, and Inez Hedges. Hedges said Yoshiaki Shimizu, whose artwork is on display at the Cambridge campus, is the fifth graduate supporting the petition.

The petition also excoriates Harvard for extending a fellowship to Sean Spicer, the former press secretary for President Trump who has been criticized for suggesting that Trump’s inauguration drew the largest crowd in American inauguration history, when in fact it was not.

The petition was launched by Rootsaction.org, which describes itself as an online activist group. The group plans to present the petition to the Kennedy School in Cambridge on Friday.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.