Chelsea Manning freed from prison

SUBHEAD: Manning served more time in prison than any other American leaker of information.

By David Kravits on 17 April 2107 for Ars Technica -

Image above: Chelsea Manning poses for new portrait with cation, " So here I am everyone!!" From (

Chelsea Manning was released from the Military Corrections Complex at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas on Wednesday—nearly three decades before the Army private's sentence was up for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks.

The intelligence analyst, who left the barracks at 2am (CDT), was court-martialed and convicted of leaking more than 700,000 documents and video about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. She came out as a transgender woman shortly after being handed an unprecedented 35-year prison sentence in 2013.

Then-President Barack Obama commuted Manning's term in January and set a May 17 release date. Manning, whom President Trump has called a "TRAITOR" on Twitter, had been in prison longer than any other US leaker convicted under the Espionage Act. She was eligible for parole in six years.

Because Manning's conviction is under appeal, she is to remain in the military on "excess leave in an active-duty status" entitling her to healthcare, the military said. If she loses her appeal, she might be dishonorably discharged and could lose her healthcare and other benefits.

Neither the military nor Manning's supporters said where she would be living. But Manning tweeted in January she would return to Maryland, where she previously resided.

"I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now—which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me," Manning said in a statement.

Manning said in a petition to Obama that she "did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members." Among other reasons, she wanted to be released in order to continue her transition-related healthcare. A White House online petition saw more than 100,000 people demand that Obama commute Manning's sentence.

"It has been my view that, given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received. It made sense to commute, and not pardon, her sentence," Obama said of Manning's commutation during the final days of his presidency.

Manning enlisted with the Army in 2007 and leaked the documents at a Barnes & Noble in suburban Maryland. The classified files, which were on a camera's memory stick, were uploaded during a 2010 mid-tour leave from Iraq.

At trial, Manning testified about a classified video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Iraq that was ultimately found to have killed civilians and a Reuters journalist. "For me, that was like a child torturing an ant with a magnifying glass," Manning said. Using Tor, Manning uploaded the video and documents to WikiLeaks. The video went viral and is known as the "collateral murder" video.

In the days before Obama commuted Manning's sentence, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he would surrender to US authorities if Obama showed Manning mercy. Assange is living in a self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London amid fears he could be charged in the US for exposing the secrets Manning leaked.

However, Assange weaseled out of his pledge, saying he meant he would surrender only if Obama allowed Manning to leave the brig immediately, not on May 17.


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