Private Chelsea Manning will remain on active duty in the military, to include receiving health care benefits, after being released from prison on Wednesday, the Army told USA Today.
Private Manning will not receive active duty pay, but will have access to full military health care and other benefits afforded to active duty soldiers.
“Pvt. Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review,” said Dave Foster, an Army spokesman. Manning has appealed her court-martial conviction, and during that appeals process must remain a member of the armed forces.
Private Manning gained international notoriety first as a whistle-blower in 2010 after leaking thousands of classified secrets to Julian Assange’s “Wikileaks” an organization which was recently described by CIA Director Mike Pompeo as a “hostile foreign intelligence service.”
Manning was arrested, and during the subsequent legal proceedings has spent seven years in a military prison. In his finals days in office, President Obama commuted the remaining years of her 35-year sentence, stating she had served a rough prison term already. Obama’s commutation does not reverse a conviction, as would be the case in a full presidential pardon.
Shortly after Private Manning’s conviction in 2013, Manning, who had been living as a man up to that point, announced she was beginning a gender transition to female. After initially refusing, the Army agreed to provide hormone treatment as part of Manning’s transition. However, the military did not move Manning to a female prison or permit her to officially change her name.
Manning’s decision to begin gender transition while in prison led many to believe the social politics of transgender rights heavily influenced President Obama’s decision to commute her sentence, something that would not have occurred if Manning had continued living as a man.
Private Manning’s latest statement, released by the American Civil Liberties Union last week, is as follows:
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.”
“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. My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own. I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others.”
Image courtesy of the Japan Times
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