TEHRAN, May 17, YJC - American whistleblower and former US Army soldier Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) has been released from prison after serving seven years for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -
Manning had left Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas on Wednesday morning, the BBC reported, citing a US Army spokesman.
In one of his final acts before leaving office in January, then-US President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year prison sentence.
The 29-year-old transgender whistleblower, who changed her name from Bradley to Chelsea after her sentencing, was convicted in 2013 for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which were later released by WikiLeaks.
She has been imprisoned since 2010 and was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in prison for espionage, by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.
Manning was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad when she provided more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, the largest leak of classified materials in US history.
Court testimony showed that she had been in a mental and emotional crisis before the leaks, due to the stress of a war zone and the fact that she had gender dysphoria.
Manning has already served nearly seven years in prison. She tried to kill herself on two separate occasions while in prison last year.
Manning’s lawyer said on Tuesday that she was excited to be free.
"She's ready to finally be able to live as the woman that she is," Nancy Hollander said.
"For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea," Manning 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."
‘Manning revealed unquestionable war crimes’
Manning's friend, American journalist Glenn Greenwald, however, told the BBC that she would face a difficult life outside of prison.
"She's going to live in a country where the top officials have expressed extreme denunciations of her, condemnations of her, who regard her as a traitor," he said.
"But the reality is that if you look back at what it is that she achieved, she revealed unquestionable war crimes, her disclosures led to reforms around the world,” he stated.
Assigned in 2009 to an Army unit in Iraq as an intelligence analyst, Manning had access to classified databases. In early 2010, Manning leaked classified information to WikiLeaks and confided this to Adrian Lamo, an online acquaintance.
After her conviction, she announced that she wanted to be known as Chelsea Manning and referred to by female pronouns.
In early 2010, she leaked classified information to WikiLeaks, which made her a hero to open-government activists.
She disclosed diplomatic cables from American embassies around the world, incident logs from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, intelligence dossiers about Guantánamo Bay detainees and a video of a helicopter airstrike in Baghdad in which two Reuters journalists were killed.