Following multiple suicide attempts, stints of solitary confinement, alleged bullying at an all-male prison and being denied medications for her gender transition, U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning can be on social media like any other free civilian.
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. She even created her own hashtag: #ChelseaIsFree.
On Wednesday, an Army spokesperson confirmed that Chelsea Manning, born Bradley Manning, was released from prison seven years into her 35-year sentence. Manning was released “in accordance to President Obama’s order,” the U.S. Army said in a statement, adding that no further information would be released “to ensure the privacy and security of Inmate Manning.”
“She’s ready to finally be able to live as the woman that she is,” Nancy Hollander, Manning’s attorney, told the BBC.
In an exclusive statement to ABC News, Manning said, “I appreciate the wonderful support that I have received from so many people across the world over these past years. As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past. The past will always affect me and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point, not my final destination.”
In 2013, Manning was found guilty of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and sentenced to 35 years in prison. The day after her sentencing, Manning confirmed through her lawyer that she identifies as a woman. She began her gender transition while in prison, although she had made appearances as a woman since as early as 2010.
According to a GoFundMe page that raised over $150,000 to help her transition back to public life, Manning will return to Maryland.
The army said Manning will remain on active army duty while her military court conviction remains under appeal, as reported by the BBC. She will not be paid but will receive healthcare benefits.