Chelsea Manning says she had ‘a responsibility to the public’ in first interview since release

The former US Army intelligence analyst was in prison for seven years for leaking nearly a quarter of a million military and diplomatic documents

Chelsea Manning has given her first interview since being released from prison last month (May 17).

The former US Army intelligence analyst was sentenced to prison for 35 years for leaking nearly 750,000 military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. President Obama commuted the rest of her sentence before he left office earlier this year, leaving her having only served seven of those years behind bars.

In a new interview with Good Morning America, Manning has given her reasons for leaking those documents. “We’re getting all this information from all these different sources and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem,” she said. “I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people.”

She continued: “Counter-intelligence warfare is not a simple thing. It’s not as simple as good guys versus bad guys. It is a mess.”

She added that she felt she had “a responsibility to the public”. “We all have a responsibilty,” she said.

Manning came out as transgender a few days after being imprisoned in 2013, as The Fader reports. The military denied her requests for hormone treatment until 2016, when Manning went on hunger strike. The move to grant her access to the treatment made her “the first military prisoner to receive health care related to gender transition and was part of a shift in practice that lead to the elimination of the ban on open trans service in the military,” according to her lawyer.

“[It] keeps me from feeling like I’m in the wrong body,” Manning said of her need for the hormones she fought for. “I used to get these horrible feeling like I just wanted to rip my body apart and I don’t want to have to go through that experience again. It’s really, really awful.”

Manning has not spoken to Obama since he commuted her sentence, but said she would say thank you for giving her a chance. “I’ve been given a chance,” she said. “That’s all I asked for was a chance. That’s it, and now this is my chance.”