Soon-to-be-released Chelsea Manning wants to help others after prison
"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," Manning said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday.
"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," she added, giving thanks for her upcoming release.
Freedom was only a dream, and hard to imagine. Now it's here! You kept me alive <3 https://t.co/abkGoA3fOi— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) May 9, 2017
Manning twice attempted suicide last year and also went on a hunger strike which ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender transition treatment.
President Obama commuted her sentence in January, just three days before his term ended, following an outpouring of support for Manning from the public over her mistreatment in prison.
The move did not satisfy all her supporters, as some felt she should have been pardoned.
A joint statement from her lawyers, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, noted: "Chelsea has already served the longest sentence of any whistleblower in the history of this country. It has been far too long, too severe, too draconian.
"President Obama's act of commutation was the first time the military took care of this soldier who risked so much to disclose information that served the public interest."
The US Army charged Manning with 22 counts relating to the unauthorized possession and distribution of more than 700,000 secret diplomatic and military documents and video. Included in those files was video footage of an Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
Manning also passed on sensitive messages between US diplomats, intelligence assessments of Guantanamo detainees being held without trial and military records from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The disclosures were considered an embarrassment to the US, prompting the Obama administration to crack down on government leaks.
At a sentencing hearing, Manning apologized for "hurting the US" and said she had thought she could "change the world for the better."
Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on government waste and questionable activities at the NSA, but was instead prosecuted for espionage offered support to Manning.