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Chelsea Manning celebrates release from prison: ‘First steps of freedom’

After leaving the United States Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Manning said in a statement, “After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived. I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now—which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me.”

She also tweeted a photo celebrating her “first steps of freedom.”

Manning was known as Bradley Manning when she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013. One day after sentencing, she came out as a transgender woman, but still had to serve her sentence at the all-male army prison. She made two suicide attempts in 2016.

Days before he left office in January, Obama commuted most of Manning’s sentence, leaving her with just four months left to serve. He set off some minor controversy with the move, but dismissed “the notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished,” saying Manning “has served a tough sentence.”

A GoFundMe page set up for Manning’s return to civilian life has raised over $150,000. In a statement issued in anticipation of her release, Manning said, “For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea.”