Kansas, USA (TeleSUR) – “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.”
Chelsea Manning, the former army intelligence analyst, is set to be released from military prison after seven long years, she confirmed on Twitter Tuesday.
Manning said in a statement that she could only dream of a life outside the walls of the 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. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of, but never allowed myself to fully imagine. 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,” she said.
Manning was given a 35-year sentence by a court martial, after she leaked almost three-quarters of a million classified U.S. war reports and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks.
Manning, who changed her name shortly after her sentencing and started identifying as a transgender woman, was serving time in men’s military prison. The former soldier was hit with new charges in July 2016: three administrative prison offenses related to her first of two suicide attempts last year. After being punished with solitary confinement for the first suicide attempt, Manning tried to commit suicide again in October.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is representing Manning in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense over access to gender-related medical care, told NBC News that the case will be put “on hold” and most likely dismissed after her release.
Manning garnered tremendous support in favor of her release from the prison. “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,” Manning said in the statement.
In December 2016, ACLU – along with over a dozen LGBT groups – sent a letter to former U.S. President Barack Obama, that garnered 115,000 signatures urging the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Obama commuted her sentence just before leaving office in January, leaving only four months to be served by Manning.
The exact date for Manning’s release hasn’t been revealed, but earlier reports suggested May 17 as a likely release date.
This post originally appeared on TeleSUR English.