Chelsea Manning, the transgender former United States military intelligence analyst responsible for a massive leak of classified material, will walk out of prison today after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence.
Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years prison for the leak, but was released after seven years thanks to a commutation of her sentence by president Barack Obama before he left office.
Manning was convicted of providing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks, an global organization that publishes such information from anonymous sources, while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
The Army has continued to officially consider Manning male, and has kept her in the men's section of the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Backers have raised more than $135,000 for housing and other essentials and to assist her with her re-entry into society after seven years in prison.
While Manning was in prison, the US Defence Department a year ago lifted a long-standing ban against transgender men and women serving openly in the military. She twice tried to commit suicide and faced long stretches of solitary confinement as well as denial of healthcare, Strangio said.
Until Manning's appeal of her court martial conviction is resolved, the whistleblower will remain a member of the USA military.
"... We will continue to call for an independent investigation into the potential human rights violations Manning exposed, and for protections to be put in place to ensure whistleblowers like Chelsea are never again subjected to such appalling treatment", a statement by Amnesty International said. She emerges from prison as one of the most high-profile transgender people in the country.
But Manning's trial and imprisonment brought out the dramatic struggle she had over her gender.
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The money will pay for Manning's living expenses for her first year out of prison.
She attempted suicide twice past year and also conducted a hunger strike. Though permitted to wear women's undergarments, she was forbidden to grow her hair long.
Manning's attorneys Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward agreed.
Manning tweeted a photograph Wednesday morning of her feet in black sneakers walking across a wood floor: "First steps of freedom!"
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hailed Manning as a hero and said her pending release from prison is an "epic victory". On April 20: "You know you've been in prison for a while, when the prospect of freedom is nerve wracking". Her sentence was commuted before that surgery could take place.
But Manning, whom Greer considers a personal friend after speaking with her over the phone nearly every week, is "an incredibly driven person and I would expect that we will be hearing from her in her own voice", Greer said.
Manning also will be able to live where she wants.