The US military has confirmed that Chelsea Manning has been released from Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas on Wednesday morning after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence. She was charged under espionage charges.
Manning was arrested in May 2010 in Baghdad for leaking thousands of classified US military documents to WikiLeaks and was sentenced to 35 years in 2013. Born as Bradley Manning, the 29-year old always intended to live as a woman called Chelsea. Manning served the seven year held captive in Iraq, Kuwait and the US, but always kept in men-only detention facilities.
Most of her sentence had been commuted by then-President Barack Obama in his final day in office in January. During her jail term, she battled legally most of the times to be respected as a transgender woman.
Manning , speaking from prison last week said I’m looking forward to breathing the warm spring air again. I want that indescribable feeling of connection with people and nature again, without razor wire or a visitation booth. I want to be able to hug my family and friends again. And swimming – I want to go swimming!”
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she added.
“People keep assuming that just because someone is released their appeal is over. The rest of her case is still out there and we want to clear her name. She was convicted of crimes that I don’t believe she committed and her whole prosecution was unfair, ” Manning’s appeal lawyer, Nancy Hollander, told the Guardian.
“Like far too many people in prison, particularly transgender women, Chelsea Manning has had to survive unthinkable violence throughout the seven years of her incarceration,” the ACLU’s Chase Strangio said in a statement. “Finally, she will be leaving prison and building a life beyond the physical walls of the many sites of her detention.”
While the social media is rejoicing her release, David Coombs, the soldier’s trial lawyer said in a statement in which he said that the 35-year sentence handed down to the Army private amounted to a “grievous wrong”.