'Ungrateful Traitor' Chelsea Manning Released From Prison Early By Obama

Posted May 19, 2017

London-based Pulse Films made the announcement at the opening of the Cannes film festival, on the day of Manning's planned release from a maximum-security military prison.

Manning said in a statement Wednesday that "whatever is ahead ... is far more important than the past", and that she's "figuring things out right now".

"First steps of freedom!" she wrote on Instagram alongside a smiling emoji and the hashtag "chelseaisfree".

Manning, who is transgender and was known as Bradley Manning before she transitioned in prison, was convicted in 2013 of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, theft and computer fraud. The newly-minted Chelsea Manning successfully lobbied the federal government for the right to receive hormone therapy to transition to a woman while serving her sentence. She tried to kill herself on two separate occasions while in prison a year ago. Manning had been sentenced to a record-holding 35 years in prison for leaking the classified documents, but President Barack Obama had commuted her sentence in his final days in office.

She served seven years of a 35-year sentence for leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military files to Wikileaks. Military prosecutors had argued that Manning's leaks severely damaged USA intelligence.

Manning is likely to become a transgender advocate, said Chase Strangio, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who has represented Manning.

"We can all finally truly celebrate the strength and heroism she has shown in surviving and sharing her truth and life with all of us", Strangio, who also is transgender, said in a statement that included Manning's post-release comments. She was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy.

While in prison, Manning faced indefinite solitary confinement for an attempted suicide after disclosing that she identified as a woman.

But despite mainstream outlets and government officials using Manning's preferred female pronouns and name after her announcement years ago, right-wing Twitter users are using the occasion of her freedom to misgender the whistleblower. For the time being, she will have access to the healthcare the military provides, a benefit that some are unhappy about. On Wednesday morning, Manning tweeted after being released from the prison.

An online fundraising effort has raised a little more than $143,000 as of late Tuesday to help Manning pay for rent, utilities and other living expenses in the first year of her release. She also began a hunger strike last September over what she says was the lack of treatment she was receiving for her gender dysphoria.

Though she still needs to navigate the legal process, Manning's "priority is living her life in the civilian world and taking care of her own needs".