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WikiLeaks Source Chelsea Manning Freed From U.S. Military Prison


Chelsea Manning in a 2010 photograph released by the U.S. Army

Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier who was convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents, says she is seeking to put her past behind her following her release from prison.

Manning, who walked free on May 17 after serving seven years in prison, said after her release that she is "figuring things out right now -- which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me."

"I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past," Manning, whose original 35-year sentence was largely commuted by former President Barack Obama shortly before he left office, said in a statement via her lawyers.

The 29-year-old soldier, who was born Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 of 20 charges in connection with the leaks, including espionage.

After her sentencing, Manning said she had felt female since childhood and wanted to live as a woman.

Manning was deployed to Iraq as an intelligence analyst when she leaked the diplomatic cables and military files to WikiLeaks.

She defended her move by saying she had wanted to spark a public debate in the United States about the role of the U.S. military and foreign policy, but later apologized for "hurting” the country.

The U.S. military confirmed earlier on May 17 that Manning had left a military prison in Kansas.

After her release, she posted a photograph of her feet in sneakers accompanied by a caption that read: "First steps of freedom!!"

A day after Obama commuted Manning's sentence in January, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he stood by his offer to be extradited to the United States as soon as Manning was released from prison.

Assange fled to Ecuador's embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces rape allegations. He has remained there ever since.

The United States is conducting an investigation into WikiLeaks, which last year published internal Democratic Party e-mails that U.S. intelligence says were stolen in a Kremlin-directed hacking campaign aimed at meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

Central Intelligence Director Mike Pompeo in April called the website a "hostile intelligence service."

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and the BBC
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