Chelsea Manning Released from Military Prison After Seven Years for Leaking Government Secrets

Transgender U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who leaked 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, has been released from prison seven years into her 35-year sentence.

An Army spokesperson confirms that Chelsea Manning, born Bradley Manning, left Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas Wednesday morning.

“She’s ready to finally be able to live as the woman that she is,” Nancy Hollander, Manning’s attorney, told the BBC.

In an exclusive statement to ABC News, Manning said, “I appreciate the wonderful support that I have received from so many people across the world over these past years. As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past. The past will always affect me and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point, not my final destination.”

The U.S. Army released a statement confirming Manning was released “in accordance to President Obama’s order,” but said no further information would be released “to ensure the privacy and security of Inmate Manning.”

One of Obama’s last acts as president was to commute Manning’s sentence.

In 2013, Manning was found guilty of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and sentenced to 35 years in prison. The day after her sentencing, Manning confirmed through her lawyer that she identifies as a woman. She began her gender transition while in prison, although she had made appearances as a woman since as early as 2010.

The 29-year-old attempted suicide multiple times during her sentence after stints of solitary confinement, alleged bullying at the all-male prison and being denied medications for her gender transition.

In a statement released on the website Luminairity last week, Manning shared her excitement about her upcoming release.

“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine. Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters.”

 

According to the BBC, the army said Manning will remain on active army duty while her military court conviction remains under appeal. She will not be paid but will receive healthcare benefits.

Manning will return to Maryland, according to a GoFundMe page that has raised over $150,000 to help her transition back to public life.

In 2016, a petition calling for President Barack Obama to release her early garnered 100,000 signatures.

As one of his final actions as commander-in-chief, Obama shortened her sentence — one of 1,715 commutations and 212 pardons granted by him during his term.

from PEOPLE.com http://people.com/crime/chelsea-manning-released-prison-obama-commutation/

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