Here’s a bit of good news to help you contend with most of the bad: Chelsea Manning will be released from prison sometime next week, just five months after former President Obama commuted her prison sentence in one of the final acts of his presidency.
Manning, a transgender woman, has served seven years of a 35 year sentence for leaking military documents to Wikileaks in 2010 and she petitioned Obama for early release in November 2016. Since being in prison, she has attempted suicide twice and gone on a hunger strike in protest of military officials’ refusal to provide proper treatment for her gender dysphoria. In September, the military finally agreed to start the process for an eventual gender transition surgery, which would’v been the first to occur in prison in the United States.
Her lawyers were unable to provide an exact date of release, according to CNN, but a statement from the White House in January set the date at May 17. In a joint statement from her lawyers Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, they condemned the “draconian” nature of Manning’s sentence. “Chelsea has already served the longest sentence of any whistleblower in the history of this country,” they said. “President Obama’s act of commutation was the first time the military took care of this soldier who risked so much to disclose information that served the public interest.”
In her own statement, Manning expressed gratitude for all the support she’s received over the past seven years and expressed a profound sense of relief about the end of her ordeal.
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. 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. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters.”