02:28 GMT26 October 2020
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    Whistleblower Chelsea Manning expressed gratitude to hundreds of thousands of supporters for helping win her release from a military prison after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, according to statements released by her legal team at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, Manning has been released after seven years in prison. Her sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama in January.

    "Chelsea has expressed her deep appreciation to her supporters and looks forward to the future," Manning’s ACLU lawyers Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward said in a joint statement. "Thank you to everyone for ensuring her safe release and respecting her privacy as she starts to adjust to life outside of prison and rebuild her life."

    Manning, arrested as Bradley Manning prior to undergoing a sex change, was convicted of espionage and other charges in a military court in 2013 after leaking more than 700,000 US military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.

    While in prison, Manning faced indefinite solitary confinement for an attempted suicide after disclosing that she identified as a woman. As a result, Manning attracted support from hundreds of thousands of activists, who waged protests and circulated petitions, which persuaded former President Barack Obama to grant clemency shortly before leaving office.

    The ACLU release contained a brief, forward-looking statement from Manning: "I’m figuring things out right now — which is exciting, awkward, fun and all new for me."

    In appealing the 35-year sentence, Manning’s lawyers argued that the former intelligence analyst was a troubled and naive soldier who was motivated by a desire to reveal the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


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