Newly-freed Chelsea Manning says putting past behind her

Angie Massey
May 19, 2017

Manning, behind one of the largest classified information leaks in USA history, left Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas in the morning, Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson told CNN. Spokeswoman Valerie Mongello did not give additional details, citing privacy restrictions.

In one of his final acts as president, Obama pardoned 64 people and commuted the sentences of 209 others, including Manning. No press conference is planned and media massed at the military installation caught no glimpse of Manning as she was released.

Manning was found guilty of more than 20 charges related to the leaks and was set to serve 35 years for her crimes.

In January she tweeted that she wanted to move to Maryland after being released, a state where she previously lived.

In prison, Ms Manning also became an inspiration for transgender people as she struggled with identifying as a woman while in American military custody.

Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, has acknowledged leaking the materials, including more than 700,000 military and State Department documents, along with battlefield video.

She was known as Bradley Manning before transitioning in prison. "I have never made any excuses for what I did", Manning wrote in her petition in November to have her sentence commuted.

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She served seven years of a 35-year sentence for leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military files to Wikileaks.

An image shared on both the Twitter and Instagram account showed a pair of Converse shoes with the accompanying text "First steps of freedom!" and the hashtag #ChelseaIsFree.

"I'm figuring things out right now - which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me", 29-year-old Manning said in an emailed statement hours after being released from a lockup at Kansas' Fort Leavenworth.

The 29-year-old served seven years in jail over what is believed to have been the biggest breach of classified information in U.S. military history. This transition is certain to speed up outside a prison environment Manning said denied her "right to exist".

"Because of the nature of her circumstances and the experience of confinement, she is very committed to living her life as free from the government as possible and taking care of her own health benefits and financial needs, separate and apart from the continued benefits available to her", the lawyer said.

"In an active-duty status, although in an unpaid status, Manning is eligible for direct care at medical treatment facilities, commissary privileges, morale welfare and recreation privileges, and exchange privileges", Johnson said in a written statement.

The Army says Manning will be on "excess leave", meaning she is considered to be off-duty, while her court-martial conviction is under appellate review.

Other reports by GizPress

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