Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the soldier who was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for giving classified materials to WikiLeaks, said Wednesday that she’s excited about what lies ahead, just hours after she walked free after serving seven years behind bars.
“I’m figuring things out right now — which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me,” Manning said in an emailed statement. She tweeted a picture of her feet in tennis shoes — with the caption “First steps of freedom!!” — after walking away from the Fort Leavenworth lockup in Kansas.
Manning’s immediate plans, including living arrangements, remained unclear. Manning tweeted after then-President Barack Obama granted her clemency in January that she planned to move to Maryland, where she has an aunt. Manning originally comes from Crescent, Oklahoma.
“After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived,” Manning said in Wednesday’s statement. “I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past.”
Manning, who is transgender and was known as Bradley Manning before she transitioned in prison, was convicted in 2013 of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, theft and computer fraud. She was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.