Private First Class Chelsea Manning was released from Fort Leavenworth military prison Wednesday after serving seven years for leaking U.S. secrets.
Military prosecutors in 2010 charged Manning with 22 offenses, including violations of the Espionage Act, for giving hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Manning pleaded guilty to ten of those charges in 2013 to avoid the death penalty, and was later found guilty of additional charges and sentenced to 35 years in a military prison.
The sentence was the longest punishment ever imposed on an American for leaking information from military documents.
Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, was known as Bradley Manning at the time of the trial but came out as transgender the day after being sentenced, sparking a media frenzy. The newly-minted Chelsea Manning successfully lobbied the federal government for the right to receive hormone therapy to transition to a woman while serving her sentence.
In January, outgoing President Barack Obama commuted the sentence by decades, arguing that seven years in prison was punishment enough while citing her two recent suicide attempts.
If Obama expected gratitude for the commutation, he never got it. A week later, Manning wrote an op-ed for the Guardian that trashed the former president’s legacy and wrote that “over the last eight years, there have been very few permanent accomplishments.”
On Wednesday morning, Manning tweeted that she had finally been released, complete with an image of her new shoes.
— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) May 17, 2017
“I appreciate the wonderful support that I have received from so many people across the world over these past years,” Manning said in a statement. “As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past.”