Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier who was deemed a traitor by prosecutors after sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, has been freed after spending seven years in prison.
Manning was facing 35 years of prison for violating the Espionage Act and other offenses when she released more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks in 2010.
On Wednesday, Manning was freed from prison after then-President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in January.
Last September, the LGBTQ community rallied around her after she went on a hunger strike demanding gender confirmation treatment. Manning, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as a woman, ended her strike after the Army complied with her request.
“Like far too many people in prison, particularly transgender women, Chelsea Manning has had to survive unthinkable violence throughout the seven years of her incarceration,” Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU, said in a statement last week. “Finally, she will be leaving prison and building a life beyond the physical walls of the many sites of her detention. It is a remarkable gift to the world that Chelsea will be able to grow and fight alongside us for justice.”
In a statement last week, Manning thanked Obama and her supporters, and said freedom was something she “dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine.”
“Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts,” Manning said in the statement. “I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team, and countless supporters.”