Chelsea Manning will stay in the U.S. Army after her release from prison Wednesday. She will even get health benefits, and access to commissaries and military exchanges. But this may change, pending the appeal for her 2013 conviction.
“Pvt. Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review,” Army spokesman Dave Foster told USA Today. He declined to talk about other terms of her release, claiming there were privacy concerns.
We reached out to Manning’s legal team for comment.
Manning, previously known as Bradley, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking over 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks. Punishment included a dishonorable discharge.
The leak was a bad look for the U.S. government and armed services. Nonetheless, then-President Barack Obama commuted all but four months of her sentence in January. For as long as she remains in the Army, she’ll likely get medical care connected to the Army’s own reported diagnosis that she has gender dysphoria.
Manning came out as transgender in August 2013, and sought hormone therapy. The military rejected this, sparking an ACLU lawsuit against the Department of Defense. She eventually got the treatment in early 2015. Manning ended a hunger strike after the Army’s September 2016 agreement to get her gender transition surgery.
She appealed her conviction beginning May 2016. The ACLU backed her up, filing an amicus brief calling her prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917 to be unconstitutional. They said the law was way too vague and “allows for the discriminatory punishment of disfavored speakers,” and violates the First Amendment. If Manning fails, she could get the dishonorable discharge from the Army, and lose the health benefits.
President Donald Trump called Manning an “ungrateful traitor” in January after she penned an article critical of Obama, who just commuted her sentence.
Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
In June, the Department of Defense lifted its ban on transgender people serving in the military.