Key dates in the case of WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning has been released from a military prison in Kansas after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence. Manning had been sentenced to a record-holding 35 years in prison for leaking the classified documents, but President Barack Obama had commuted her sentence in his final days in office.

Chelsea Manning, the transgender former Army intelligence analyst who turned government secrets over to WikiLeaks, was released from prison at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, has learned. After being forced to serve her sentence in jail for leaking classified secrets about the US military as a man, the transgender Chelsea Manning, 29-years-old, is finally "ready to be able to live as the woman that she is", as said by her lawyer Nancy Hollander.

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.

LGBT groups in a joint letter a year ago led by ACLU had joined calls on Obama to commute the sentence for Manning, who applied for clemency with the White House in November. "Thank you to everyone for ensuring her safe release and respecting her privacy as she starts to adjust to life outside of prison and rebuild her life".

Manning has becoming a hugely divisive personality in the U.S., after she was arrested and jailed in 2010.

The New York Times reported earlier this year that Manning was eventually permitted to wear female prison undergarments, receive speech therapy to feminize her tone and begin cross-sex hormone therapy.

At the time of the commutation, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said there were major differences between Manning's case and that of another well-known leaker, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. These however were not classified as "top secret", and Manning is seen as a whistleblower by her supporters.

Consistent with Republican opposition to Obama's clemency for Manning, the Log Cabin Republicans was one group withholding applause for her upon her release. She was acquitted of the most serious charge she faced, aiding the enemy.

Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said this means Manning can wear her preferred civilian clothing, including women's attire, while on excess leave.

Manning said in 2014 that she chose to disclose the classified information to expose truths about the civil war in Iraq "out of a love for my country". As well, Chelsea was placed in a male military prison despite being a transgender woman.

In a recent interview with NPR, Steven Nelson, a reporter with U.S. News and World Report, clarified why Obama made a decision to significantly shorten the original 35-year sentence handed to Manning.

It was retweeted nearly 7,000 times in the first hour after it emerged online, and received more than 1,000 likes on her newly set up Instagram account.

  • Leroy Wright