Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army private convicted of leaking government secrets to Wikileaks and sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in a U.S. military prison, was set free on Wednesday morning. Manning had served seven years behind bars, most recently at Fort Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. The remaining 28 years of her sentence was commuted earlier this year by former President Barack Obama just days before he left office.
Manning, who was known as Bradley Manning at the time of her arrest in 2010, had been held in Leavenworth, a male prison. Following her conviction four years ago, Manning announced that she is transgender and formally changed her name to Chelsea. Her time inside Leavenworth was often especially difficult and a topic of controversy as she often clashed with prison administration. In a 2015 interview with Cosmopolitan, Manning said she didn’t face harassment from other inmates who were mostly “very smart and sophisticated people.” But she was punished multiple times for being in possession of contraband, and said she was denied access to the prison legal library. She also attempted suicide twice while there.
Manning, who often tweeted with the assistance of supporters, said on Twitter in recent days that she was optimistic about her pending release, suggesting she looked forward to living life as a woman in the real world. On Wednesday morning, Manning posted a photo of her feet as she walked out of prison, wearing a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor shoes, taking their first steps of freedom.
“She’s ready to finally be able to live as the woman that she is,” lawyer Nancy Hollander said. Manning will remain an active-duty soldier in the Army, but won’t be paid a salary. It’s very unlikely she’ll be called to duty.
Read the full story at the BBC.