After serving 7 years of a 35-year sentence, transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning will finally be released from prison next week. Manning was first imprisoned in 2010 after leaking documents to WikiLeaks that exposed military behavior. She petitioned to be pardoned in 2016 and had her sentence commuted by President Obama at the end of his term.
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Manning's legal team released this statement about the release, which was scheduled in January for May 17:
"Chelsea has already served the longest sentence of any whistleblower in the history of this country. President Obama's act of commutation was the first time the military took care of this soldier who risked so much to disclose information that served the public interest."
In a personal statement, Manning discussed her excitement for living freely as a woman in the outside world:
"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. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters."