Chelsea Manning Celebrates First Steps of Freedom on Instagram

May 19, 2017, 06:50

While most mundane activities - such as eating pizza and drinking Dom Pérignon - don't usually grab national attention, Manning was finally able to take part in what she's been missing out on since entering Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas seven years ago.

Manning was convicted of providing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks, an worldwide organisation that publishes such information from anonymous sources.

Military prosecutors in 2010 charged Manning with 22 offenses, including violations of the Espionage Act, for giving hundreds of thousands of classified USA documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. But critics said the leaks laid bare some of the United States' most sensitive secrets and endangered information sources. The State Department had to move people to protect their safety and several ambassadors were recalled, expelled or reassigned because of embarrassing disclosures.

Yet in January, the then outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama shortened the sentence to seven years after she had requested clemency.

On social media Wednesday, people either hailed her as a courageous hero or denounced her as a traitor. "... I feel very comfortable that justice has been served".

Supporters of Manning - who attempted suicide twice a year ago alone - said they feared she would not have been able to survive the long sentence. "Chelsea has emerged with grace, resilience, and an inspiring amount of love for others".

Manning's friend, American journalist Glenn Greenwald, told the BBC that she would face a hard life outside of prison.

"As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past", the statement said. "I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world", she wrote last week. Manning, born with the name Bradley Manning, came out as a trans woman and began transitioning from within the male military prison.

Manning will remain on active army duty while her military court conviction remains under appeal.

"Presenting myself in the gender that I am is about my right to exist", she said.

Chase Madar, Manning's biographer, argued that she carried out an act of public service by leaking the documents, adding that none of the information leaked by Manning was top secret. (Manning was deployed in Iraq in the time).

London-based Pulse Films made the announcement at the opening of the Cannes film festival, on the day of Manning's planned release from a maximum-security military prison.

Manning was released from the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks Wednesday morning.

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