Controversial leaker Chelsea Manning released from US military prison

Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning says she's uncertain where her life will take her after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence for leaking classified government materials to WikiLeaks.

The former military intelligence analyst, then known as Private First Class Bradley Manning, was convicted of providing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks, an global organization that publishes such information from anonymous sources.

The leaks included battlefield reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as State Department cables, and rocketed WikiLeaks to global prominence.

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 overseas war home to the U.S.

President Barack Obama granted Manning clemency in his final days in office in January. She also said she released information that she didn't believe would harm the USA, but critics said the leaks endangered information sources.

In a brief statement, she said she was focused on the future, which "is far more important than the past".

President Obama's decision to commute her sentence drew criticism from leading Republicans, including Senator John McCain, who called it a "a grave mistake".

"As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past".

Last week, Manning tweeted her excitement about her impending release: "Freedom was only a dream, and hard to imagine".

The Oklahoma native's attorneys and the Army have refused to say precisely when and how she will be released, citing potential safety concerns.

"She has experienced trauma over the past seven years of her confinement and the trauma from those experiences won't just evaporate the day she walks out of prison", said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Chase Strangio, who represented Manning.

Pulse Films announced Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival in France that Manning would be the focus of a documentary titled "XY Chelsea" and that she had granted filmmakers "unprecedented access". Manning's support team also provided little information, citing her need for privacy and time to adjust. While in prison, she wrote a column in the Guardian newspaper, maintained a blog and posted to Twitter with the help of supporters, who took her dictation over the phone. Critics, meanwhile, said she put US lives and operations at risk as an attention-getting antic.

In a statement last week, Manning said she looked forward to freedom, "after almost seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted".

She hopes to continue hormone therapy and may pursue gender reassignment if doctors continue to recommend it, Strangio said. After the 2013 sentencing, the ex-intelligence agent changed her name to Chelsea Manning and identified as transgender.

But Manning, whom Greer considers a friend after speaking with her over the phone nearly every week, is "an incredibly driven person, and I would expect that we will be hearing from her in her own voice", he added.

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.

  • Salvatore Jensen