Chelsea Manning was finally freed early Wednesday morning, after serving seven years in prison for leaking military documents in 2010. Her sentence was commuted by Barack Obama in one of his final acts of president, and somehow Donald Trump managed not to get involved and fuck it up.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years for sharing government documents with Wikileaks. She spent many days in solitary confinement as punishment for suicide attempts. Manning also went on a hunger strike to protest the lack of treatment for her gender dysphoria, and was finally allowed to start the process of transitioning in September of 2016. Her sentence was always considered unusually long, and many thought she was used as a scapegoat as a similar scandal around Edward Snowden and the disclosure of classified information unfolded.
On the day of Manning’s release, a new documentary centered on her trial and imprisonment was announced, entitled XY Chelsea. In statement emailed to Jezebel, director Tim Travers Hawkins wrote that Manning’s release has obviously changed the filmmaking process:
“When I first wrote to Chelsea at the military prison in Kansas, she could not be filmed, nor could I communicate with her in any way other than through letters. Regardless, I believed it was imperative to find a creative way to engage with her life and story. Now, with Chelsea emerging from confinement, the journey of this film has reached its most historic and exciting moment.”
The Guardian reports that though Manning is free, she will continue to fight to have her sentence overturned entirely. However, she told reporters last week that her plans first include some simpler goals.
“I’m looking forward to breathing the warm spring air again,” said Manning. “I want that indescribable feeling of connection with people and nature again, without razor wire or a visitation booth. I want to be able to hug my family and friends again. And swimming – I want to go swimming!”