Chelsea Manning has been liberated

17 May 2017

‘Free Chelsea Manning’ poster. Image: Exile on Ontario St/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

After seven years in prison, whistleblower Chelsea Manning has walked free.

Former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning – responsible for a massive leak of classified material on WikiLeaks – has left prison after serving seven years out of a 35-year jail sentence.

The 29-year-old had her jail sentence commuted in a final act of clemency by former US president Barack Obama before he left office in January.

‘Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past’

In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison, and was discharged from the US army for her role in exposing the actions of the military. This was the longest sentence ever to be imposed on a whistleblower in US history.

Data trove

Manning, now seen as a transgender champion for internet freedom, was formerly known Bradley Manning before being diagnosed with gender dysphoria while in the US army.

She had passed 700,000 pages of revelatory material about US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks, which included videos of the Baghdad airstrike on 12 July 2007 and the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan.

The data trove also included 250,000 US diplomatic cables and 500,000 US army reports known as the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs.

In a brief statement released by the US army, Manning said: “After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived. 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.”

‘Free Chelsea Manning’ poster. Image: Exile on Ontario St/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Updated, 5.06pm, 17 May 2017: This article has been updated to clarify that Chelsea Manning was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, which is no longer referred to as a disorder.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years