“Chelsea Manning almost died on our watch. She suffered at the hands of our government, and the toll of her incarceration nearly killed her. But she survived. Through long stretches of solitary confinement, the systemic denial of health care, relentless abuse, and a lifetime of consequences, she will have a chance to live” writes Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, LGBT & HIV Project of the ACLU.
Chelsea, who had been an army intelligence analyst, was released from prison last Wednesday 17 May, 2017, after seven years, having been convicted of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. She was arrested in 2010.
On January 17, 2017, President Obama commuted Chelsea’s 35-year prison sentence. With the commutation, 28 years were cut from her sentence, and her life was saved.
Last February, when her sentence was commuted, Chelsea (29) wrote to her friends inside:
“I never would have made it without you. Not only did you teach me these important lessons, but you made sure I felt cared for. You were the people who helped me to deal with the trauma of my regular haircuts. You were the people who checked on me after I tried to end my life. You were the people that played fun games with me. Who wished me a Happy Birthday. We shared the holidays together. You were and will always be family.”
When she was requesting that her sentence be commuted, she wrote to President Obama:
“I am merely asking for a first chance to live my life outside the USDB as the person I was born to be.”
Attorney Chase Strangio says:
“And now she will get that first chance. She will be able to occupy her body, express her gender, navigate the world, share and grow, love and grieve, on her own terms.
Nothing about the coming days or weeks or months will be easy — but they will be hers — and we will love her and support her and give her space to live”.
She has said that she intended the leaks to expose wrongdoing. She will remain unpaid although still in the US army, while she awaits an appeal of her conviction.