Chelsea Manning shares first picture of herself since release

She also tweeted a photo of her feet, clad in black, low-top Converse Chuck Taylors, with the caption, "First steps of freedom!"

One day after being released from a top-security USA military prison, transgender former soldier Chelsea Manning - who served seven years for one of the largest dumps of classified documents in U.S. history- unveiled her new look on Thursday (May 19).

Amnesty International, which had campaigned for Manning's release, was quick to applaud the decision.

She was originally arrested in May 2010 at a United States army base in Baghdad and later confessed to having leaked hundreds of thousands of documents and videos downloaded from intelligence databases to WikiLeaks.

If the USA will take 35 years from Chelsea Manning's life, may it console her that she has given us, Arabs, the secret gift that helped expose and topple 50 years of dictatorships. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters.

"Okay, so here I am everyone!" she wrote, adding a smiley-face emoji and the hashtag #HelloWorld. According to the Army, Manning will stay on active duty (unpaid) and can receive health care benefits.

Media captionWhat next for Chelsea Manning after release?

An Army spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson, said Manning will be on "excess leave" while her court-martial conviction is under appellate review.

Producers said Manning granted filmmakers "unprecedented access".

Manning came out as a transgender woman in prison.

She was serving a 35-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for whistleblowing and was forced to serve her sentence in an all-male prison.

Manning at that time was a 22-year-old Army private named Bradley Manning. National security hawks who said she did devastating damage to USA interests countered that the commutation was an outrageous act that set a risky precedent.

Manning was the first service member to be approved for gender reassignment surgery in military prison.

Pulse Films announced the film at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, the same day that Manning was released from Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas. But she later apologised for what she called a mistake, and for "hurting the US". But Obama said she had served a "tough sentence".

"When the Obama administration was preparing to grant Manning clemency, they drew the distinction that Manning had faced trial, that Manning had expressed some degree of contrition".

  • Rogelio Becker