The transgender Army private who was sentenced for the unauthorized possession and distribution of secret military documents and videos will be released from prison in a week.
Chelsea Manning, previously known as Bradley Manning, had his/her sentence commuted by President Obama during his last three days in office.
“Chelsea has already served the longest sentence of any whistleblower in the history of this country. It has been far too long, too severe, too draconian,” a statement from his/her lawyers read. “President Obama’s act of commutation was the first time the military took care of this soldier who risked so much to disclose information that served the public interest.”
Manning was charged with 22 counts relating to more than 700,000 secret diplomatic and military documents and videos. Included in those files was video footage of an Apache helicopter accidentally killing a civilian journalist while targeting insurgents for an Army battalion from the 1st Infantry Division in Baghdad in 2007. The video was widely circulated in the media and was later the focus of a controversial film titled, “Incident in New Baghdad.
At a sentencing hearing, Manning apologized for “hurting the US” and said he/she had thought she could “change the world for the better.” While in prison, Manning failed twice at killing himself/herself at the male military prison where he/she is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison and was not supposed to be released until 2045. Manning’s release was confirmed on his/her Twitter feed on Tuesday.
“Freedom was only a dream, and hard to imagine. Now it’s here! You kept me alive <3,” Manning wrote, linking to a longer statement which referred to some of the treatment she had received behind bars, including “periods of solitary confinement, and… routinely forced haircuts,” according to BBC.
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”
Manning is set to be released on May 17.
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