Chelsea Manning, the former army intelligence analyst who leaked U.S. classified documents and was sentenced to 35 years in prison on 20 counts, including violations of the Espionage Act, was released from military prison Wednesday morning after seven long years.
In a written statement released Wednesday, she said, "For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world."
Manning posted several photos on Instagram and Twitter chronicling her first day of freedom, including taking her sneaker-clad "first steps to freedom," enjoying a slice of her "first hot, greasy pizza," and celebrating her sweet freedom with the classic clink of the champagne glasses. "Here's to freedom and a new beginning," Manning tweeted. And last but not least, she posted an image of herself for the world to see.
Among several other things, Manning also commented on finding a health care plan under the Trump regime. She said, "Two more days until the freedom of civilian life ... Now hunting for private #healthcare like millions of Americans."
Soon after her commutation, Manning penned an article for the Guardian, in which, she thanked her friends for their undying support. “I never would have made it without you. Not only did you teach me these important lessons, but you made sure I felt cared for. You were the people who helped me to deal with the trauma of my regular haircuts," she wrote.
"You were the people who checked on me after I tried to end my life. You were the people that played fun games with me. Who wished me a Happy Birthday. We shared the holidays together. You were and will always be family,” she added.
ACLU attorney, Chase Strangio, who was involved with Manning’s case, told Common Dreams, "The first thing Chelsea always says when we talk about her freedom is that she wants to give back to the trans community — to fight for the many trans people, largely trans women of color, held in custody."