Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning released from U.S. prison

Americans increasingly back impeachment; John McCain compares Donald Trump scandals to Watergate

Whistle-blower and former soldier Chelsea Manning has been released from a Kansas military prison after serving seven years of her 35-year sentence for leaking classified government materials to WikiLeaks. As one of his last acts before leaving office, President Barack Obama commuted Manning's 35-year sentence, in effect allowing him to walk free 28 years early.

Manning "has been released from the United States Disciplinary Barracks" at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, US army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in a brief statement.

Chelsea Manning, formerly known as a male officer called Bradley Manning, was arrested in 2010 after leaking 700,000 military files including a battlefield video and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, the largest leak of classified data in USA history.

Manning had been imprisoned since 2010, when, then an Army private, she was arrested for sharing classified documents with WikiLeaks. In the days before his inauguration, Trump tweeted that Manning was a "Ungrateful TRAITOR" who "should never have been released from prison". "Now hunting for private #healthcare like millions of Americans". The Army also initially refused to grant her gender reassignment surgery, but reversed its decision in September after she underwent a hunger strike. Strangio wrote that many have complained Chelsea is not depicted with longer hair, but the photos were chosen to "capture the reality of her prison life".

"Chelsea Manning is the LGBTQ movement's greatest-ever anti-war activist and whistleblower about government crimes, and yet she was shunned by virtually every large LGBTQ non-profit", Thayer said.

The Oklahoma native had a hard childhood. No press conference is planned and media massing at the military installation may be hard-pressed to even catch a glimpse of Manning. Funds will help her pay for rent, utilities, health care and other living expenses. Manning added, though, that she didn't plan for the released documents to harm the U.S.in any way.

She remained housed at Fort Leavenworth, an all-male Army prison, despite her request to transfer to a civilian women's prison.

According to The New York Times, the military charged Manning with "aiding the enemy", which was based on the theory that providing information to the public is the same as providing info to Al Qaeda. The Army prohibited visitors - with the exception of her lawyers - unless they knew her prior to her arrest. The information she disclosed included low level battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, evidence of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo prison camp detainee profiles and us diplomatic correspondence.

The decision angered national security experts who say Manning put USA lives at risk, but it won praise from transgender advocates who have embraced her transition to a female gender identity. The 32-track album also features songs by frequent Bruce Springsteen collaborator Tom Morello's acoustic solo project The Nightwatchman, founding Sonic Youth singer/guitarist Thurston Moore and a variety of others artists. Organized by Evan Greer, a transgender activist and friend of Manning's, the album is available here.

She also went on a hunger strike a year ago, which she ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender transition treatment.

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