Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of leaking classified material, wants to say thank you to former President Barack Obama for commuting her sentence.
“Thank you for giving me a chance,” Manning said, repeating a similar statement she made after Obama commuted her sentence. “That’s all I asked for was a chance, that’s it. And this is my chance.”
Three days before Obama concluded his presidency, he commuted Manning’s sentence from 35 years to seven. While he allowed her early release on May 17, the commutation does not pardon her actions. Manning is working with Amnesty International and an ACLU lawyer to appeal her case.
Manning told NBC’s Today in her first interview since leaving prison that she leaked over 700,000 documents because after seeing footage of people getting killed, the war death statistics became more tangible to her. Manning said she had a responsibility to show the truth to the public.
After getting her commutation, she wrote an op-ed in The Guardian, critiquing Obama for not enacting enough permanent change during his presidency, and President Donald Trump, in a rare sign of support for Obama, called Manning an “ungrateful traitor.” She tweet-replied “OK? Whatevs” with a music video of "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" by Jay-Z.
She gained a social media presence after advocating for and successfully receiving hormone treatment in prison, and many people supported her struggle, even sending her letters while she was behind bars. Manning now has access to military medical care, since she is still on active duty as a U.S. Army soldier.