Chelsea Manning Released After Obama Clemency Decision

Brunilde Fioravanti
Mag 18, 2017

Manning will be allowed to wear her preferred civilian clothing, including women's attire, while on excess leave, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.

In a statement last week - her first public comments since Obama intervened - Manning thanked that former president and said that letters of support from veterans and fellow transgender people inspired her "to work toward making life better for others". When she was deployed to Iraq, she chose to live the life she wanted.

"The past will always affect me, and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point - not my final destination", the statement said.

She served almost seven years of her 35-year sentence at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The U.S. Army says Pvt. The leaked information included a video of the so-called Collateral Murder video that showed a 2007 USA airstrike by two AH-64 Apache helicopters during the Iraq war in which up to 18 people, including civilians and two journalists, were killed. After serving seven years of her sentence, Manning will be released on May 17. The day after she was sentenced, Manning revealed that she was a trans woman and changed her name from Bradley to Chelsea.

At the time, the White House said Manning had accepted responsibility, expressed remorse and served time.

In 2013 she was convicted of 17 of the 22 espionage charges against her, but acquitted of charges alleging she aided the enemy or that she meant to harm the national security interests of the country.

Manning left the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas early Wednesday. Her protracted battle to receive treatment for gender dysphoria at an all-male facility increased her profile in the LGBT community.

Chase Strangio, one of Manning's attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union, called her "a fierce advocate for justice". "It's so unbelievable that she is being released and can fully share herself with the world".

Still, Manning faces a hard transition to freedom, Strangio said. She twice tried to commit suicide and faced long stretches of solitary confinement as well as denial of healthcare, Strangio said. No press conference is planned and media massed at the military installation caught no glimpse of Manning as she was released.

In her letter to Obama asking to commute her sentence, Manning wrote: "The Army kept me in solitary confinement for almost a year before formal charges were brought against me". It was a humiliating and degrading experience - one that altered my mind, body and spirit.

"Manning as a 22-year-old wanted to spark a broad worldwide discussion of various injustices she perceived in scandals, whereas Snowden who had access to more highly classified documents had a very specific policy debate he wanted to start about surveillance".

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a target of criminal investigations in Sweden and the United States, has promised to accept extradition if Manning was freed.

Here is a timeline of her story so far. "But they will be hers".

And the first thing she is doing is starring in a documentary film about her ordeal. Her lengthy sentence was also deemed too harsh by legal watchdogs-President Obama commuted it near the end of his second term.

"I personally would love for Chelsea to sit on a beach for a month and sip whatever drinks she likes to sip and relax", said Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future, a digital rights organization, who has been helping to raise money for Manning's return. If her appeal is denied, she risks dishonorable discharge from the military.

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