Chelsea Manning releases 1st statement since clemency win

Former U.S. Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning seen here in an undated handout

Chelsea Manning wearing a wig and lipstick. "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me", she said in a statement announcing the change.

She received a commutation from President Obama in one of his final acts in office in January after an outpouring of support for Manning from the public over her mistreatment in prison and opposition to the extremely harsh sentence.

Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who is set to be released from prison next week after serving almost seven years for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, said Tuesday that she is preparing for the life she never thought she'd have.

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Former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaChelsea Manning set for prison release next week Dem vows to storm Ryan's district to protest health bill Obama's post-White House life: "Fighting Michelle to get more closet space" MORE commuted Manning's prison sentence in January, cutting short a sentence that would have originally ended in 2045. Earlier reports suggested May 17 as a likely release date. After being punished with solitary confinement for the first suicide attempt, Manning tried to commit suicide again in October. "Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine". "I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world", said the 29- year-old, who still identified as male when she was arrested.

Manning, who has been called an "ungrateful traitor" by President Donald Trump, said the support she received through letters kept her going.

Originally named Bradley, Manning became a hero to anti- war activists and a villain to government officials outraged over her leaking of classified files.

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Chase Strangio, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represents Manning, said in a Facebook live broadcast on Tuesday that his client was not bitter about her time in prison.

Manning was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years behind bars - the longest ever imposed for a leak conviction. "It has been far too long, too severe, too draconian", Manning's attorneys, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, said in a joint statement. She has been incarcerated for seven years - far less than the 35 years to which she was sentenced, but longer than any whistleblower in USA history.

She also went on a hunger strike a year ago, which she ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender transition treatment.

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