Chelsea Manning celebrated her first steps of freedom today with an Instagram post on her new account @xychelsea87. The simple image features her black Converse sneakers and the caption, "First steps of freedom," attracting a flurry of comments welcoming her home and thanking the 27-year-old whistleblower for her sacrifices. "#ChelseaIsFree," Manning posted with a smiling emoji.
Upon leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, the transgender soldier was originally sentenced to 35 years in US military prison, but only served 7 years after former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in the final months of his term. Obama's decision was praised by Manning supporters, but criticized by Donald Trump, who called her an "ungrateful traitor" and argued she "should never have been released from prison."
In a statement released by Manning's legal team, the former intelligence analyst said she's excited for what's to come: "After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived," Manning said. "I am looking forward to so much. Whatever is ahead of me, is far more important than the past. I'm figuring things out right now--which is exciting, awkward, fun and all new for me."