Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Chelsea Manning is a Free Woman

"For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea", she said in a statement before her release.

The New York Times reported earlier this year that Manning was eventually permitted to wear female prison undergarments, receive speech therapy to feminize her tone and begin cross-sex hormone therapy. "Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past".

Shortly after her release, Manning posted a photo of her Converse-clad feet with the caption, "First steps of freedom!:D".

Ms Manning, then Bradley, was apprehended in Baghdad by USA officials in 2010 and spent over 1,200 days in military custody which were removed from her sentence upon her conviction in 2013. The day after she was sentenced, Manning revealed that she was a trans woman and changed her name from Bradley to Chelsea.

She attempted suicide twice a year ago and also conducted a hunger strike. The campaign for Wednesday's release was backed by organizations supporting Manning's release including the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International. The request was eventually granted but her sentence was commuted before she could obtain the operation, according to the Washington Post.

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The Oklahoma native was convicted of 20 counts including theft, computer fraud and six violations of act.

The transgender soldier is scheduled to be freed from Fort Leavenworth on Wednesday in accordance with former President Barack Obama's decision to grant her clemency in his final days in office.

On January 26, following Obama's January 16 commutation of Manning's sentence, then-President-elect Donald Trump tweeted, "Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader".

Manning announced her gender transition while the US Army kept her in the men's prison. "Thank you to everyone for ensuring her safe release and respecting her privacy as she starts to adjust to life outside of prison and rebuild her life".

Ms Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, has acknowledged leaking the materials, which included battlefield video.

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"She is a very driven person and I know she intends to continue what she has always done, which is advocating for others and using her voice to try to make the world a better place so I'd expect that we will be hearing from her before too long", said Greer. Now internationally known, both adored and reviled, Manning is to be the subject of a documentary called "XY Chelsea", co-produced by Oscar victor Laura Poitras who worked with fellow intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

After leaving Fort Leavenworth, a military prison in Kansas, Manning has clearly been making the most of her freedom - posting a picture of herself enjoying a slice of pizza.

Hugs for Chelsea includes Nash's song "Almost Gone", which the folk-rock legend co-wrote with Crosby, Stills & Nash touring keyboardist James Raymond about Manning in 2011.

Manning was handed a 35-year sentence on a host of charges, including communicating national defense information to an unauthorized source, to, following a courtroom confession back in 2013, when she was still Pfc.

Manning was arrested by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division on May 27, 2010 and accused of 22 charges, including violating articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Espionage Act.

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Manning's immediate plans, including living arrangements, remained unclear.

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