Chelsea Manning Speaks On Her Motivation For Leaks, Thanks Obama

"I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people," she told ABC News

Jun 09, 2017 at 1:05 PM ET

In her first interview since being released from prison, Chelsea Manning, a transgender U.S. Army soldier who was jailed for leaking classified information for seven years, talked about why she was motivated in going public with secret military documents and offered thanks to former President Barack Obama for commuting her sentence.

In an interview with ABC News that’s set to air on Friday, Manning said that her decision to leak information had to do with the human impact the information she was receiving.

“We’re getting all this information from all these different sources and it’s just death destruction, mayhem. We’re filtering it all through facts, statistics, reports, dates, times, locations, and eventually, you just stop,” Manning said. “I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people.”

Manning said that she didn’t think the information, which detailed civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, and diplomatic communications, would imperil national security, but hoped that they would inspire citizens to think about America’s conduct. She also said that she has taken responsibility for what she did.

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“Anything I’ve done, it’s me. There’s no one else,” she said. “No one told me to do this. Nobody directed me to do this.”

Formerly known as Pvt. Bradley Manning, the former soldier, now 29, was sentenced to 35 years on espionage and computer fraud charges after handing over hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks. She served seven years before her sentence was commuted by Obama, and she was released in mid-May.

During the interview, Manning thanked the former president for her clemency.

“I was given a chance, that’s all I wanted,” Manning said. “That’s all I asked for was a chance, that’s it.”