By Leada Gore
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
Chelsea Manning, the military analyst who, as Bradley Manning, was convicted of supplying thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks, will remain in the Army after her release from prison Wednesday.
Manning will remain an active duty, unpaid soldier who is eligible for healthcare and other benefits following her release from military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Army officials told USA Today.
"Pvt. Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review," a military spokesperson said.
Manning will be assigned to an Army post but it's unclear where and in what role. She will remain a private and have access to commissaries but will not be paid, pending the appeal of her court martial conviction. If that's upheld and she's dishonorably discharged, she would lose those privileges as well as health care benefits through the military.
Manning was convicted in 2013 of providing information to Wikileaks on U.S. operations in Afghanistan. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison, the heaviest sentence handed down to a whistleblower or leaker in U.S. history. Before her trial, Manning announced she was transgender and her attorneys argued it was impossible for her to receive adequate medical care while held at an all-male prison.
Shortly before leaving office, former President Obama announced he was commuting Manning's 35-year sentence after she had spent seven years behind bars.
In a written statement this week, Manning said for the first time, she can "see a future of myself as Chelsea."
"I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world," she said. "Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine. Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts."
Manning underwent hormone therapy while in prison and attempted suicide twice. Her attorneys said Manning plans to complete her gender transition soon after her release.
©2017 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham