Chelsea Manning to remain on active duty, unpaid after prison release
The US Army has confirmed that Chelsea Manning will remain on active duty but unpaid, after her release from prison this week.
Private Manning will be on “excess leave” after she is released from prison, Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Johnson said on Tuesday.
The leave means she will be unpaid but will have access to military medical care, while her court-martial conviction is under appellate review.
“In an active-duty status, although in an unpaid status, Manning is eligible for direct care at medical treatment facilities, commissary privileges, morale welfare and recreation privileges, and exchange privileges,” Johnson said in a written statement.
When released on 17 May, Private Manning will have served nearly seven years of her 35-year conviction at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth.
She was convicted in 2013 of leaking secret military and State Department documents.
The Private was convicted on 20 counts which included six Espionage Act violations, theft and computer fraud.
She was also acquitted of aiding the enemy, what would have been the most serious charge.
Manning’s early release was one of President Obama’s last acts in office.
Before the sentence being commuted, Manning attempted to take her own life more than once.
She also carried out a hunger strike and sued the US Army because they would not allow her to transition behind bars.
The military finally allowed her to undergo gender treatment, but court documents indicate that some officials are still refusing to recognise her gender identity.
It was believed that Manning, who has been incarcerated for seven years, would lose her entitlement to gender reassignment health care as it was announced that she would receive a “dishonourable discharge”.
However, last week a spokesperson for the Army, Dave Foster, also confirmed that she would remain active despite as her court-martial conviction is still under appeal.
“Pvt. Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review,” Foster said.
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“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” Manning said. “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,” she added.
Manning’s lawyer, Chase Strangio, added: “Like far too many people in prison, particularly transgender women, Chelsea Manning has had to survive unthinkable violence throughout the seven years of her incarceration.”
Manning has received hormone treatment for the past six years and has been deemed eligible for sex reassignment surgery funded by the government. However, if the appeal is lost then this benefit would be lost.