Chelsea Manning Is Released After Seven Years Behind Bars

Her ACLU attorney said it was an incredible moment to witness

May 17, 2017 at 12:11 PM ET

Chelsea Manning is free.

After spending seven years behind bars for sharing military secrets as an Army private, Manning has been released, her lawyers confirmed Wednesday. Using the Twitter account they have run on her behalf, she soon tweeted the first known photo of herself since leaving prison and coming out as a trans woman.

In 2011, Manning pleaded guilty to charges under the Espionage Act for passing Army files — including a video of Army helicopter pilots shooting and killing civilians — to WikiLeaks for distribution. She was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison, but in January, in one of his final acts before his term ended, President Barack Obama ordered her sentence be commuted.

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Manning has gained a substantial network of well-wishers. They widely regard her as a whistleblower, and have condemned the all-male military prison that housed her for repeated stints in solitary confinement — regarded as torture by a U.N. report — and for initially denying her hormone treatment.

“It is incredible to witness Chelsea Manning’s freedom after having seen and worked with her behind bars for four years. We can all finally truly celebrate the strength and heroism she has shown in surviving and sharing her truth and life with all of us,” Manning’s ACLU lawyer, Chase Strangio, said in a press statement.