Chelsea Manning is free! Yes, the former US Army intelligence analyst who was behind one of the largest leaks of classified information in history, was released from prison on Wednesday.
If you don’t know, Chelsea Manning was Bradley before, but after being arrested Bradley had transitioned into Chelsea. She served time at the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where she had conform to mandatory male grooming standards before her 3 a.m. ET release earlier this morning.
The American Civil Liberties Union Lawyer who represented Chelsea Manning in court said that, “She has experienced trauma over the past seven years of her confinement and the trauma from those experiences won’t just evaporate the day she walks out of prison.
It’s going be a process for her to heal and begin to live her free life with more autonomy over her gender and her decisions and vision for the future,” he added.
After Chelsea Manning was freed from jail, she said, “After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived. I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now — which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me.”
In addition, Chelsea Manning also tweeted a photo of her rocking some low-top Converse Chuck Taylors, with the caption, “First steps of freedom!!”
The US Army has confirmed that Chelsea Manning will remain on unpaid, active-duty status as she continues to appeal her court-martial. What this means is that Manning will still have access to military medical benefits, which include, gender dysphoria and gender reassignment, however, Strangio said that his client has no intention of using the benefits provided due to how she was treated while locked up.
“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.
Originally, Chelsea Manning was convicted back in 2013 for leaking 750,000 pages of documents and videos to the whistleblowing website, Wikileaks. For this, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on 20 counts, which included violations of the Espionage Act. Then, after the 2013 sentencing, Bradley changed her name to Chelsea Manning and identified as transgender. President Barack Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence in before leaving office in January, which gave her an early release date.