By Debbie Gregory.
Transgender Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of passing sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, has released from the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Manning, who was previously known as Bradley Manning before gender transitioning in prison, was convicted in 2013 of Espionage Act violations, theft and computer fraud. She was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.
Before leaving office, Manning’s 35-year sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama, who said that seven years in federal custody was enough for her crimes.
Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, has acknowledged leaking the materials, saying she did so because she wanted to expose what she considered to be the U.S. military’s disregard of the effects of war on civilians.
The leaks did reveal some of the nation’s most-sensitive secrets and endangered information sources, prompting the State Department to help some of those people move to protect their safety.
Several ambassadors were recalled, expelled or reassigned because of embarrassing disclosures.
Manning announced after her conviction that she is a woman. She was approved for gender reassignment surgery. The assurances from the Army that she could have the procedure came two months after Manning tried to commit suicide, and after a hunger strike that lasted four days, according to the ACLU.
Army officials said Manning will remain on active duty, but will be on unpaid leave while she pursues an appeal of her court-martial conviction. That means she will be eligible for benefits, including health care and commissary privileges.
Manning hopes to continue hormone therapy, and may pursue gender reassignment if doctors continue to recommend it, according to Chase Strangio, Manning’s attorney.