U.S. Soldier Chelsea Manning has been released from prison today after serving several years for 20 charges related to leaking military documents.
Manning was imprisoned in 2010 for leaking extensive military documents related to the Iraq war to the press, including a video of an Apache helicopter wantonly murdering 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
Manning was found guilty of more than 20 charges related to the leaks and was set to serve 35 years for her crimes. The day after she was sentenced, Manning revealed that she was a trans woman and changed her name from Bradley to Chelsea.
Those who supported Manning’s leaks said that the information she released led to the end of the Iraq war and brought the realities of the abroad war home to the U.S.
Manning faced many roadblocks on her road to freedom, including multiple suicide attempts and a hunger strike, both due to her imprisonment in a male facility and extensive time spent in a solitary cell.
Her sentence was commuted in President Obama’s final months in office, a controversial move which was cheered by advocates and pro-whistleblower groups.
Manning will remain in the military for now, unpaid. For the time being, she will have access to the healthcare the military provides, a benefit that some are unhappy about. Still, Manning’s active military status is under review and she may still receive a dishonorable discharge pending an ongoing hearing.
Shortly after her release, Manning posted a photo of her Converse-clad feet with the caption, “First steps of freedom!! :D.”