Chelsea Manning, the Army private who leaked a vast trove of U.S. state secrets to WikiLeaks, released her first statement Tuesday since being granted clemency. She will be released from Fort Leavenworth in Kansas on May 17.
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” Manning said, referring to her transition from male to female since her Army service. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”
The former intelligence analyst in Iraq, known at the time as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 of leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents and battlefield video. She served nearly seven years of her 35-year sentence, which was reduced in a commutation order by former President Barack Obama in one of his last acts before leaving office in January.
Manning, a native of Crescent, Oklahoma, was convicted in a military court martial of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, theft and computer fraud. She was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.
Manning was arrested in 2010, and came out as transgender after being sentenced. She filed a transgender rights lawsuit and attempted suicide twice last year, according to her lawyers.
Her defense team has said Manning was subjected to violence in prison and argued the military mistreated her by requiring her to serve her sentence in an all-male prison, restricting her physical and mental health care, and not allowing her to style her hair in a feminine manner.
The Department of Defense has repeatedly declined to comment on Manning's treatment in prison.