World News

Chelsea Manning Leaves Prison

Chelsea Manning Leaves Prison

Chelsea Manning, a transgender former Iraq-based U.S. Army intelligence officer who was sentenced to 35 years for giving classified data to WikiLeaks, walked out of a military prison early Wednesday after seven years behind bars.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in November 2010 that the impact of WiKiLeaks releasing diplomatic cables (from Manning's leak) was "significantly overwrought" by others, noted NPR.

"After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived", Manning said in a statement hours after her release, according to ABC News. "I am looking forward to so much!"

In a statement last week - her first public comments since Mr Obama intervened - Manning thanked the former president and said letters of support from veterans and fellow transgender people inspired her "to work toward making life better for others".

The 29-year-old had her jail sentence commuted in a final act of clemency by former U.S. president Barack Obama before he left office in January.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail in 2013 after being convicted of numerous charges, including espionage. She was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. The leaks were also criticised by some who said that exposing the country's most sensitive secrets endangered information sources.

She defended the leaking by saying she had wanted to spark a public debate in the United States about the role of the military and United States foreign policy, but later apologised for "hurting the US", saying she had mistakenly believed she could "change the world for the better". Manning came out as a transgender woman the day after being sentenced to prison.

As a result of her hunger strike, the military did finally agree to pay for Manning's gender transition treatment. Manning was imprisoned after providing more than 700,000 confidential documents pertaining to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to WikiLeaks.

National security hawks who said she did devastating damage to US interests countered that the commutation was an outrageous act that set a risky precedent.

There have been protests held to have Manning released from prison, and on the most part her posts on social media were warmly received. "I've been rooting for you the whole time", one person wrote.

According to a statement, Manning was released from the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, at about 2 am.

She attempted to take her life twice previous year and also conducted a hunger strike.

"Pvt. Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review", said Army spokesman Dave Foster. This transition is certain to speed up outside a prison environment Manning said denied her "right to exist".

Last week, Manning tweeted her excitement about her impending release: "Freedom was only a dream, and hard to imagine".

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