Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. military intelligence analyst arrested in 2010 for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified files regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been released from detention.
Among the files Manning sent to WikiLeaks was a video captured from an Apache gunship, which showed the helicopter firing upon suspected insurgents in Baghdad. It was revealed those fired upon were actually civilians, including two Reuters journalists.
However, the release of the files also brought considerable criticism from the U.S. military and intelligence community, some of whom described her as “not a whistleblower,” but “a traitor.”
Just after her release, Manning took to social media to document her re-entry into public life.
Manning, who faced hardships in the male detention facility as a transgender prisoner, also released a statement about her release earlier this week. In it, she wrote that “for the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea.
“I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine.“Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts.”
In January, the 29-year-old had the vast majority of her sentence for espionage, theft and fraud convictions commuted by President Barack Obama in one of his final substantive acts in the White House.
As her sentence is still being appealed, Manning will technically remain an active duty member of the military, but has been placed in a special non-paid role. She will still be able to access military-provided healthcare benefits.