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BREAKING: Chelsea Manning released from prison

BREAKING: Chelsea Manning released from prison

Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for leaking secrets to WikiLeaks.

Chelsea Manning has officially been released from prison.

Early this morning, Manning left Leavenworth Prison in Kansas; a US Army spokesperson has confirmed she is free.

The whistleblower was sentenced to 35 years in prison by court-martial in 2013.

She was charged with espionage and 21 other offences, including stealing government property and a number of disobedience charges.

The most serious offence Manning was found guilt of was aiding the enemy ‘through indirect means’, which on the charge sheet is listed as ‘Violation of the UCJM (Uniform Code of Military Justice), article 104’.

Manning could have received the death sentence for this charge alone, but ultimately received a 35-year prison sentence.

As one of his last acts in office, President Obama commuted Manning’s sentence to seven years total confinement in January 2017.

This includes the three years Manning served before she stood trial.

Manning in prison

Manning publicly came out as a trans woman on 22 August 2013, the day after she was sentenced, in a press released issued by her attorney.

‘As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,’ she said.

‘I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.’

Despite this, the Army said they would continue to consider her as a man; Manning was kept in male prisons for the entire time.

Her legal name change was granted in April 2014 by the Kansas District Court.

She did not receive hormone replacement therapy or any treatment for her gender dysphoria until February 2015.

On 13 September last year, the American Civil Liberties Union announced the army would grant Manning’s request for gender confirmation surgery.

The whistleblower attempted suicide twice during her prison sentence: once on 5 July 2016 and on 4 October of the same year.

For the first attempt she was later sentenced to 14 days of solitary confinement, but was released after seven days.

She also went on a five-day hunger strike on 9 September 2016 out of protest over ‘being bullied’ by prison authorities and the US government.

What did Manning actually do?

In 2009, Manning was assigned to an Army unit in Iraq.

Through her work as an intelligence analyst, she had access to classified information.

Early in 2010, Manning leaked some of the information she had access to WikiLeaks.

They posted the first material on 18 February 2010, a US diplomatic cable document now known as Reykyavik13. It commented on a diplomatic dispute that began after the privately-owned Icelandic Landsbanki went into receivership and thousands of Dutch and UK retail depositors lost a total of €6.7 billion.

It is generally considered the first in a serious of US diplomatic cables being leaked.

Known as Cablegate, it totals 251,287 State Department cables, authored by 271 American embassies and consulates in 180 countries; the documents are dated between 1966 and 2010.

WikiLeaks also published a video of a 2007 Baghdad airstrike, which they called ‘Collateral Murder’. It shows two US helicopters firing at a group of 10 men.

Two of the men in the video were reporters for Reuters on assignment; the pilots mistook the journalists’ cameras for weapons.

The helicopters are also seen firing at a van, which had already been targeted earlier by one helicopter. The van had stopped to help some of the wounded men. Two children who were in the van were wounded, and their father was killed.

Further leaked documents include the Afghan War Logs and Iraq War Logs, which among others revealed information about civilian deaths, and files on Guantanamo Bay.

The Iraq War Logs are deemed the biggest leak in US Military history. The files record a total of 109,000 death; 66,081 of them were civilians.

According to the Guardian, they show ‘US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers’.

How was Manning arrested?

Manning confided her leak to Adrian Lamo, a threat analyst and former hacker.

He gained media attention for breaking into a number of high-profile networks, including Microsoft and the New York Times.

When Manning confided in him, Lamo reporter her to Army Counterintelligence and the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Manning was arrested on 27 May 2010 by the US Army Criminal Investigation Division.

She was transferred to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait four days later and then moved to the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia on 29 July 2010.

Manning was kept as a Prevention of Injury detainee, which means guards checked on her every five minute; it is considered one step short of suicide watch.