Chelsea Manning celebrates release from prison: 'First steps of freedom'

Americans increasingly back impeachment; John McCain compares Donald Trump scandals to Watergate

Chelsea Manning, former Army intelligence analyst, was convicted of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and sentenced to 35 years in jail.

The documents ranged from embarrassing diplomatic cables that revealed how U.S. envoys really felt about friends and foes alike, to videos showing a USA air strike in Afghanistan in 2009 that left more than 100 civilians dead and footage of a United States helicopter attack in Iraq that killed two Reuters journalists.

Manning was known as Bradley Manning when she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013.

May 17, 2017: Manning is released from lockup at Kansas' Fort Leavenworth, on the date Obama's clemency order had directed. Celebrating a new hope, and a return of the sun.

President Barack Obama's decision in January to commute Manning's sentence to about seven years, including the time she spent locked up before being convicted, drew strong criticism from members of Congress and others, with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the move "just outrageous". She was acquitted of the most serious charge she faced, aiding the enemy.

Lauren C. Anderson, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation executive and global consultant, is a 29-year veteran of the agency who worked extensively in national security arena.

After the sentencing, the ex-intelligence agent changed her name to Chelsea Manning and identified as transgender. As such, she may be entitled to military benefits, including healthcare.

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The GoFundMe account was created as a welcome home fund three months ago by one of Manning's attorneys, Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union.

We recently asked you to support our journalism. In the days before his inauguration, Trump tweeted that Manning was a "Ungrateful TRAITOR" who "should never have been released from prison".

According to reports, Manning had to follow male grooming standards while behind bars. She had to cut her hair, exacerbating her gender dysphoria, Strangio said.

The former USA soldier has been freed from facing a 35-year-long sentence. For security and privacy reasons, Manning is holding no press conferences or other public events. She was held in solitary in Kuwait and at Quantico. She tried committing suicide twice, according to The New York Times. She was allowed access to gender assignment surgery in 2016 only after a hunger strike, and was widely celebrated by the trans community for her fight for better treatment and recognition of her trans status while in prison. "Why was Chelsea Manning the first one?" Ward noted that Manning "took responsibility for disclosing classified information, a fact many people forget".

However, not everyone had positive things to say on Manning's release.

While Manning's sentence was commuted, her conviction remains intact. When soldiers are in the middle of an appeal and not in confinement, the Army places them on "involuntary excess leave", otherwise known as "appellate leave" i.e. unpaid leave.

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