Military Whistleblower Chelsea Manning Celebrates First Days Free
Thursday, May 19, 2017: Chelsea Manning celebrated her first day of freedom in seven years with a slice of pizza and a glass of champagne.
The Army private, who was released Wednesday after serving seven years of a 35-year term, thrilled her supporters with numerous posts on social media — including a picture of herself with the caption “#HelloWorld.” Check out her posts from the last two days, and read more about Manning’s release below.
—Posted by Emma Niles
Wednesday, May 18, 2017: Chelsea Manning, the Army private whose 35-year prison sentence for passing classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks was commuted in January by President Obama, was finally released Wednesday from a Kansas military detention center.
Manning was arrested in May 2010 for leaking hundreds of thousands of documents, including a video later titled “Collateral Murder” that showed how a U.S. military attack on Baghdad took the lives of several civilians and journalists. At the time of the arrest, Manning presented as male and went by the name Bradley.
The soldier’s disclosure of information to the whistle-blower website is considered the largest classified leak in U.S. history.
The Guardian writes:
Manning walked out to freedom after 2,545 days in military captivity. … Speaking from her prison cell as she prepared for release last week, Manning said: “I’m looking forward to breathing the warm spring air again.
“I want that indescribable feeling of connection with people and nature again, without razor wire or a visitation booth. I want to be able to hug my family and friends again. And swimming – I want to go swimming!”
Obama’s decision to release the soldier early leaves her with legal challenges still hanging over her. Foremost of those is the fact that her sentence from 2013 under the Espionage Act remains in full force – a fact that her lawyers regard as ominous given the current incumbent of the White House.
As a result, even in freedom Manning will continue to press vigorously for her sentence to be overturned. Her appeal, filed almost exactly a year ago in the US Army court of criminal appeals, argued that her 35 year sentence was “perhaps the most unjust sentence in the history of the military justice system”.
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote a laudatory piece on Manning.
As courageous as that original whistle-blowing was, Manning’s heroism has only multiplied since then, become more multi-faceted and consequential. As a result, she has inspired countless people around the world. At this point, one could almost say that her 2010 leaking to WikiLeaks has faded in the background when assessing her true impact as a human being. Her bravery and sense of conviction wasn’t a one-time outburst: it was the sustained basis for her last seven years of imprisonment that she somehow filled with purpose, dignity and inspiration. … Manning is one of the most intelligent, engaging and inspiring people one could ever hope to meet. There is a massive amount of admiration and support for her all over the world, as evidenced by the incredibly successful fundraising campaign to ease her transition out of prison. No matter where I have spoken in the world, the mere mention of her name prompts sustained standing ovations for her. All of that – her seeing how much love and gratitude there is for her – will undoubtedly strengthen her in whatever she chooses to do.
It is rare, especially lately, to find inspiration in any political stories. But the last decade of Chelsea Manning’s life, and the potential it now holds for the future, is one of those cases. One shouldn’t idealize what happened to her: there is a lot of injustice, and harm, and outrage in her story. But the way she has inspired so many, and the fact that today she is truly free, is a cause for real celebration, and a valuable reminder of how human beings, through pure acts of conscience and determination, can single-handedly change the world for the better.
— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata