Chelsea Manning: Wikileaks source freed from prison

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US soldier Chelsea Manning has been released from prison after serving seven years for leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military files to Wikileaks.

A US Army spokesperson confirmed to the BBC that she had left Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas.

Most of what remained of her 35-year sentence was commuted by then-US President Barack Obama in January.

Her lawyer earlier said she was excited but likely to be “anxious”.

“She’s ready to finally be able to live as the woman that she is,” Nancy Hollander told the BBC. The 29-year-old soldier was born Bradley Manning.

A day after she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013, Manning said she had felt female since childhood and wanted to live as a woman called Chelsea.

“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said in a statement last week ahead of her release. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”

‘Back to Maryland’

Manning was convicted of 20 charges in connection with the leaks, including espionage. She was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy.

She defended the leaking by saying she had wanted to spark a public debate in the US about the role of the military and US foreign policy, but later apologised for “hurting the US”, saying she had mistakenly believed she could “change the world for the better”.

In January she tweeted that she wanted to move to Maryland after being released, a state where she previously lived.

On Monday she tweeted: “Two more days until the freedom of civilian life ^_^ Now hunting for private #healthcare like millions of Americans =P”.

Manning will remain on active army duty while her military court conviction remains under appeal. She will have healthcare benefits but will be unpaid, the army says.

If the appeal is denied, she could be dishonourably discharged from the army, US media say.

A view of a portion of the United States Disciplinary Barracks complex, where Private Chelsea Manning is being held, is seen at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S. May 16, 2017

Manning was deployed to Iraq as an intelligence analyst when she leaked hundreds of thousands of files to Wikileaks.

Included in those files was video footage of an Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007, and many sensitive messages between US diplomats.

President Obama’s decision to commute her sentence drew criticism from leading Republicans, including Senator John McCain, who called it a “a grave mistake”.

Manning twice attempted suicide last year at Fort Leavenworth, a male military prison.

She also went on a hunger strike last year, which she ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender transition treatment.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39947602

Image Source: https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.xtKpUEyGIA91xvJUPDatZwFUC3&pid=15.1

Edited for mb3-org.com

Chelsea Manning decision: Obama says justice was served

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President Barack Obama has defended his decision to free Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning, 29 years before her scheduled release.

He told his final news conference that “justice has been served”.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years for leaking diplomatic cables to the group, one of the largest breaches of classified material in US history.

The commutation of her sentence has been attacked by Republicans as sending the wrong message.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the move set a “dangerous precedent”.

The 29-year-old transgender US Army private, born Bradley Manning, leaked documents to Wikileaks in 2010.

She will be freed on 17 May but had been scheduled to be released in 2045.

The president said Manning has served a tough prison sentence.

“So the notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital, classified information would think that it goes unpunished – I don’t think they would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served.”

The commutation announced on Tuesday reduces Manning’s sentence but is not a pardon, which some campaigners had called for.

Chelsea ManningImage copyrightAP
Image captionManning declared her new identity the day after sentencing
Chelsea Manning at Fort Meade, Maryland, in July 2013Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionChelsea Manning, then Bradley, was convicted in 2013

Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called it a “grave mistake” because Manning endangered lives.

“Her prison sentence may end in a few months’ time, but her dishonour will last forever,” he said.

Mr Ryan said President Obama “now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won’t be held accountable for their crimes”.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest hit back at Republican criticism, suggesting the party was being hypocritical given President-elect Donald Trump has praised Wikileaks.

The group released hacked Democratic Party emails during the election campaign.

“It is outrageous for them to suggest that right now what Chelsea Manning did is worse than what the man who they endorsed for president did,” he told CBS News.

He also told CNN that Mr Obama believed Manning had served an “appropriate punishment”, having been jailed for nearly seven years.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38667163