Chelsea Elizabeth Manning is a Trans woman and a former United States Army soldier. Born Bradley Edward Manning on December 17 1987, Chelsea was convicted by court-martial on July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act, after disclosing nearly three-quarters of a million classified or unclassified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeak’s founder Julian Assange.
In August 2013, Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment and was dishonourably discharged from the army.
In a statement the day after sentencing, Chelsea said she had felt female since childhood, wanted to be known as Chelsea, and desired to begin hormone replacement therapy. Whilst in the army, Chelsea was diagnosed with gender identity disorder.
Reaction to Manning’s disclosures, arrest, and sentence was mixed. Denver Nicks, one of her biographers, writes that the leaked material, particularly the diplomatic cables, was widely seen as a catalyst for the Arab Spring that began in December 2010, and that Chelsea was viewed as both a 21st-century Tiananmen Square Tank Man and an embittered traitor. Reporters Without Borders condemned the length of the sentence, saying that it demonstrated how vulnerable whistleblowers can be.
On January 17, 2017, President Barack Obama commuted (reduced) Chelsea Manning’s sentence to a total of 7 years of confinement dating from the date of arrest by military authorities. She is scheduled to be freed on May 17, 2017.