Transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning has released a statement regarding her May 17 release from U.S. military prison after serving a seven-year sentence for disclosing classified information.
She was serving a 35-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for whistleblowing and was forced to serve her sentence in an all-male prison. She received a commutation from President Obama in one of his final acts in office in January after an outpouring of support for Manning.
Manning's statement, in part, states:
"For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. 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.
"Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after 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. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters.
Multiple media outlets have reported that Manning will remain an active duty solider after her release from a military prison, pending appellate review. She will not be paid, but will be eligible for healthcare benefits.