Chelsea Manning has been released from a military prison in Kansas after being convicted of passing classified information to WikiLeaks. Manning served seven years of her 35-year sentence, which was commuted by Barack Obama as one of his final acts as President.
Manning walked out to freedom after 2,545 days in military captivity. She was arrested in May 2010 outside a US army base on the outskirts of Baghdad, having leaked hundreds of thousands of documents and videos downloaded from intelligence databases to WikiLeaks.
Her seven-year ordeal has seen her held captive in Iraq, Kuwait and the US, always in male-only detention facilities. In that time, she has waged a relentless legal battle to be respected as a transgender woman, winning the right to receive hormone treatment but still being subjected to male-standard hair length and dress codes, reported The Guardian.
Donald Trump called the former intelligence analyst an “ungrateful traitor” following the decision, claiming she “should never have been released from prison”.
“I appreciate the wonderful support that I have received from so many people across the world over these past years,” Manning told ABC News.
Obama’s decision to release the soldier early leaves her with legal challenges still hanging over her. Foremost of those is the fact that her sentence from 2013 under the Espionage Act remains in full force – a fact that her lawyers regard as ominous given the current incumbent of the White House.
As a result, even in freedom Manning will continue to press vigorously for her sentence to be overturned. Her appeal, filed almost exactly a year ago in the US army court of criminal appeals, argued that her 35-year sentence was “perhaps the most unjust sentence in the history of the military justice system”.