Chelsea Manning left Fort Leavenworth Prison on May 17 after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence for leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks.
Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, the lawyers that handled Manning’s clemency and appeal, respectively, issued a joint statement confirming her release. “We are able to confirm that Chelsea Manning has been released safely from military prison,” they said. “Thank you to everyone for ensuring her safe release and respecting her privacy as she starts to adjust to life outside of prison and rebuild her life following seven years of confinement. Chelsea has expressed her deep appreciation to her supporters and looks forward to the future.”
Manning, previously known as Pvt. Bradley Manning, had her sentence commuted by President Obama during his final days in office. Civil rights organizations and some elected officials called Manning’s original sentence length unprecedented and called for her to be released.
“The world needs more people like Chelsea Manning. It has been an honor to fight for her and a privilege to get to know her. I wanted to do something to make sure she has the support she needs now that she is being released,” Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, which has put its support behind many of the largest grassroots campaigns to help free Manning.
Support for Manning has included a GoFundMe page and an online benefit album called Against Me! with Thurston Moore, Tom Morello, Graham Nash, Talib Kweli, Downtown Boys, Amanda Palmer, Priests, Anti-Flag, Kimya Dawson, Ted Leo, Mirah, among artists participating. “Chelsea also loves music, and hasn’t had much access to it in prison. It’s so amazing that she is being released and can fully share herself with the world,” said Greer.
Nash called Manning one of his heroes. “Anyone that has the courage to disturb the ‘status quo’, to ‘rock the boat’ as she did is very brave and what she did was show some truth to the American people about what the government was doing in our name,” he said in a description of his album contribution. “God Bless her.”
In 2010 Manning was arrested, and eventually plead guilty, to having copied more than 700,000 secret documents while serving in Iraq as an intelligence analyst, eventually turning them over to WikiLeaks, according to NPR. The documents reportedly contained video on air strikes that killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with battle logs and diplomatic cables.
She was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding and abetting the enemy. Which could have carried a death sentence.
Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the ACLU, praised Manning in a statement. “Through extended periods of solitary confinement and up against the government’s insistence on denying her medical care and existence as a woman, Chelsea has emerged with grace, resilience, and an inspiring amount of love for others,” he said. “I am humbled to fight alongside such a fierce advocate for justice.”