Handout / Reuters
Chelsea Manning, a Private First Class soldier in the US Army that leaked more than 700,000 military intelligence reports and documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, was released from military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on Wednesday.
A U.S. army spokesperson at Fort Leavenworth confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Manning was released at 2 a.m. CT. He provided no further details.
Manning, 29, was originally sentenced to 35 years but had her sentence commuted by former President Barack Obama in January 2016. She will remain as an active-duty soldier in the US Army but will not receive pay.
“Chelsea is still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ),” her military defense lawyer, David Coombs, told NBC News. “She wouldn't be charged again for the same offenses, but if she committed a new crime, the military would still have jurisdiction over her.”
Manning still has an ongoing appeal on her conviction.
Shortly after sentencing in 2013
Patrick Semansky / AP
When she identified as Bradley Manning in 2010, the soldier downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and then smuggled them out of her intelligence unit. It was reported that one of the CDs she was disguised as a music disc labeled “Lady Gaga.”
The leaked files contained files such as diplomatic cables, videos, and powerpoint presentations. Manning was subsequently court-martialed and sentenced in 2013 with the opportunity for parole after seven years.
Soon after she was imprisoned, Manning came out as transgender and changed her name to Chelsea. In a statement read by her attorney on the Today show in August, 2013, Manning said, “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.” She eventually received hormone treatment while in prison.
Manning attempted suicide twice in 2016, according to her attorneys, citing her prison conditions. Her second suicide attempt came after Manning was sent to solitary confinement as punishment for her first suicide attempt, her lawyerssaid at the time. “She has repeatedly been punished for trying to survive and now is being repeatedly punished for trying to die,” Chase Strangio, her attorney, wrote in an email to the Associated Press.
Manning also went on a hunger strike in September 2016 for several days for what she and her lawyers said was a lack of treatment for gender dysphoria.
Manning‘s commutation received a host of criticism from some in the government — including now-President Trump. In the days before his inauguration, trump tweeted that Manning was a “Ungrateful TRAITOR” that “should never have been released from prison.”
Over the years, Manning, who has a Twitter account run by her supporters, has been vocal about her own imprisonment, gender transition, and current events.
On Monday Manning tweeted, “Two more days until the freedom of civilian life ^_^ Now hunting for private #healthcare like millions of Americans =P.”
A statement released by the ACLU on behalf of Manning last week read, “For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea”, with Manning adding that “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”
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