UPDATE 2 — 5/18, 2:08 p.m. EDT: 29-year-old Chelsea Manning tweeted a picture of herself for the first time since being freed from Fort Leavenworth Wednesday:
— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) May 18, 2017
UPDATE — 1:01 p.m. EDT: Upon release from military prison in Kansas Wednesday morning, Chelsea Manning tweeted the following:
— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) May 17, 2017
“I’m figuring things out right now — which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me,” she said in a statement.
Manning said in January after she was granted clemency by then-President Obama that she plans to move back to Maryland following her release.
Chelsea Manning, the Army analyst who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents pertaining to U.S. involvement in Iraq to WikiLeaks in 2010, was released from prison Wednesday morning.
Manning was sentenced to 35-years at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas in 2013 and had served nearly seven years when President Obama commuted her sentence in the remaining days of his presidency in January 2017.
Manning has been a contentious figure in U.S. politics not only for her role in exposing war crimes committed by the American government, including the murder of two Reuters journalists, but also for the treatment she received as a transgender woman in a men’s military prison. Manning made multiple attempts on her own life as a result of her treatment at the Fort Leavenworth prison — the first after she was denied medical care for her gender dysphoria.
In his last address to the White House press pool on Jan. 19, President Obama offered an explanation for his decision to grant relief to Manning.
“Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence,” he said. “Given she went to trial, that Due Process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received, and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it made sense to commute, and not pardon, her sentence. And I feel very comfortable that justice has been served.”
As far as life after prison for Manning, Chase Strangio, one of her ACLU attorneys and fellow advocate of transgender rights indicated that, “she is eager to grow her hair, express her gender and negotiate decisions on her own terms.”
While Manning has been set free from prison, she still seeks to have the conviction against her overturned. Since President Obama only handed down a commutation and not a full presidential pardon, she will still be considered guilty under the purview of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
According to Manning’s military counsel, David Coombs, since her conviction stands, she will still be under the jurisdiction of the U.S. military. The implications could impact Manning’s conduct as she returns to civilian life, including any potential writing or speaking engagements she may pursue.
[CNN] [New York Times] [WikiLeaks] [The Guardian] [NBC News] [PBS/YouTube]