Seven years after arrest, Chelsea Manning walked out of a U.S. military prison on Wednesday. She was arrested for passing secrets to WikiLeaks in the largest breach of detailed data in U.S. history. Manning who is 29, was released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, at about 2 a.m.
Manning was convicted of leaking more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks. Notably, WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources.
According to Chase Strangio, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who has represented her, the former military intelligence analyst once known as Private First Class Bradley Manning, is likely to become a transgender advocate following her release.
Manning took to Twitter after her release, photographing her “first steps of freedom” in civilian clothes.
In a brief statement, she said she was focused on the future, which “is far more important than the past”. She served seven years of a 35-year sentence.
— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) May 17, 2017
In 2014, when the controversy was fresh, Manning said that she chose to disclose the classified information to expose truths about the civil war in Iraq “out of a love for my country.”
As per BBC reports, a day after she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013, Manning said she had felt female since childhood and wanted to live as a woman called Chelsea.
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said in a statement last week ahead of her release. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world”.
Notably, Manning announced her gender transition while the U.S. Army kept her in the men’s prison. Her lawyer said she twice tried to commit suicide and faced long stretches of solitary confinement as well as denial of healthcare.