Chelsea Manning, after leaking 700,000 government documents to Wikileaks, released from prison today 

Chelsea Manning Walks Free 1

The 35-year prison term Manning received as punishment for leaking thousands of military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks in 2010 was described as unprecedented when it was handed down. Before he left office, President Obama shortened the sentence to about seven years.

Chelsea Manning; “After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived,” Manning said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“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.”

Manning tweeted a photo of her sneaker-clad feet, taking her “first steps of freedom” Wednesday morning.

In court, Manning pleaded guilty to leaking secret information — but she was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, in July of 2013.

On the morning of Manning’s release, a fundraising campaign for her post-release expenses met its goal of raising $150,000. In a related campaign, musicians Thurston Moore and Talib Kweli are among more than 30 acts on a benefit album that was released this week, with the proceeds going to Manning.

After the conviction, Manning announced she was a transgender woman and changed her name to Chelsea. A day after commuting Manning’s sentence, then-President Obama said at his final press conference that he felt justice had been served:

“It has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportional — disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received, and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it made it sense to commute — and not pardon — her sentence.”

While in prison, Manning has had to transition as a woman in a male military facility. She has tried to commit suicide twice.