Chelsea Manning, born Bradley Manning, is the former Army intelligence analyst who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses after disclosing hundreds of thousands of classified or unclassified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents. She is set to be released from prison next week after serving nearly seven years.
“I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,”‘ Manning, a transgender woman who began her transition while in custody, said in a statement. “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.”
It is unclear when exactly Manning will be released.
Just before former President Barack Obama left office in January, he commuted all but four months of Manning’s remaining sentence. Before Obama cut 28 years from her sentence, she was going to serve 35 years in a men’s military prison.
Manning also faced new charges in July 2016: three administrative prison offenses related to her first two suicide attempts last year. After being placed in solitary confinement as punishment for the first suicide attempt, Manning again tried to take her own life in October.
“I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team, and countless supporters,” said Manning on Tuesday, citing struggles over “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.”
Manning gave credit to the support she’s received through letters for keeping her going.
“I watched the world change from inside prison walls and through the letters that I have received from veterans, trans young people, parents, politicians, and artists,” Manning said. “My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own.”