Chelsea Manning: "For the first time, I can see a future for myself"

The US whistleblower is due to be released from prison next week

Chelsea Manning: "For the first time, I can see a future for myself"

Chelsea Manning. File photo

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning says she can "see a future for myself as Chelsea" for the first time ahead of her release from prison next week.

Before leaving the White House in January, Barack Obama commuted the 35-year sentence of the former US Army intelligence analyst, who leaked thousands of documents to WikiLeaks.

Ms Manning - who announced that she identified as female shortly after she was sentenced in 2013 - had not been due for release until 2045.

She will have served seven years when she is released next week.

In a statement, Ms Manning said: "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 said she will be 'forever grateful' to President Obama, her legal team, supporters and 'the people who kept me alive'.

She added: "I watched the world change from inside prison walls and through the letters that I have received from veterans, trans young people, parents, politicians and artists.

"My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own. I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others."

Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Chelsea had to "survive unthinkable violence" during her seven-years in prison.

He argued: "Finally, she will be leaving prison and building a life beyond the physical walls of the many sites of her detention. It is a remarkable gift to the world that Chelsea will be able to grow and fight alongside us for justice."