WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning announces she has ended a hunger strike because the Army has agreed to provide her with gender transition surgery.
The US Army soldier was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly three-quarters of a million classified or unclassified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents.
Psychologists recommended in April that Chelsea Manning should receive the treatment.
The move comes after the US military in July lifted a ban on transgender people in the armed forces.
“I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted – for them to let me be me,” Chelsea Manning, 28, said in a statement.
The US Army has so far declined to comment.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented Chelsea Manning, confirmed that she would be provided with medical treatment.
ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, said: “This is a monumental day for Chelsea, who can now enjoy some peace knowing that critically needed medical care is forthcoming.
“Thankfully the government has recognized its constitutional obligation to provide Chelsea with the medical care that she needs.”
Chelsea Manning began her hunger strike on September 9, saying she was being bullied by the US government and denied treatment for gender dysphoria.
In July, Chelsea Manning attempted suicide over the lack of treatment.
She will now be treated under the US military’s new transgender policy, which also allows troops to transition gender while serving and aims to set standards for medical care.
However Chelsea Manning’s campaign team said she could still face being put in solitary confinement as punishment for having tried to commit suicide.
Chelsea Manning, who was arrested as Bradley Manning, is serving a 35-year sentence at the all-male Fort Leavenworth military facility in Kansas.
She was convicted in a military court of leaking more than 700,000 secret files to WikiLeaks after having worked as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
Shortly afterwards she announced Chelsea Manning would start living as a woman.
The US Army will begin treatment for document leaker Chelsea Manning for her gender-identity condition.
Defense secretary Chuck Hagel has approved gender treatment for Private First Class Manning, who was formerly known as Bradley.
The move came after the bureau of prisons rejected the Army’s request to transfer her from a military facility.
Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified files to WikiLeaks.
The US Army will begin treatment for document leaker Chelsea Manning for her gender-identity condition
The soldier has been diagnosed by military doctors with gender dysphoria, the sense of one’s gender being at odds with the sex assigned at birth.
Following her conviction in July 2013 on 20 charges in connection with the leaks of military and diplomatic documents, Pte Chelsea Manning requested treatment including hormone therapy, and to be allowed to live as a woman.
A lawyer for Chelsea Manning threatened in May to sue the Army if she was not given gender change therapy in military prison.
Nancy Hollander argued the military had an obligation to treat the soldier’s “transgender issues”, and she would not be safe if transferred to a civilian prison for treatment there.
In April, a judge granted the soldier’s petition to change her name legally from Bradley to Chelsea, and according to a court filing by Pte Manning’s legal team, a military doctor at Fort Leavenworth had approved a treatment plan by November 2013.
The US military is required to offer medical treatment to its soldiers, but Pentagon policy prohibits transgender people from serving openly in the military.
Chelsea Manning will not be discharged from the military until she has finished her prison term.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said earlier the policy on transgender service members should be “continuously reviewed” but has not said whether he believes the policy should be overturned.
A previous study by the Palm Center estimated there were 15,000 transgender US military members and 130,000 veterans.
Convicted soldier Bradley Manning has revealed that he wants to live as a woman named Chelsea and intends to undergo hormone therapy to begin his transition to a female.
Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday for leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, made the shock announcement through his attorney on the Today show on Thursday.
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female,” Bradley Manning wrote in the statement entitled, The Next Stage of My Life.
“Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”
Bradley Manning added that he now wishes to be referred to as Chelsea and as a “she” rather than a “he”.
On Thursday, Bradley Manning’s lawyer David Coombs denied the former intelligence analyst was making this announcement for the attention or because she was a narcissist.
“Chelsea didn’t want to have this be something that overshadowed the case,” he explained.
In this undated photo provided by the US Army, Bradley Manning poses wearing a wig and lipstick
David Coombs added that Fort Leavenworth, where Bradley Manning is serving her term, does not provide hormone therapy for soldiers, but that he hoped it would “do the right thing” and provide it.
“If not, I am going to everything in my power to make sure everything is done to force them,” he said.
During the 12-week court case, an image that was released by the Army emerged showing Bradley Manning wearing a blonde wig and makeup in a photograph she had taken herself.
“She never really wanted this to be public,” David Coombs added of Bradley Manning’s identity.
“Now that it is, unfortunately, you have to deal with it in a public manner.”
Bradley Manning’s lawyers had argued throughout the case that he was under incredible stress at the time of the leaks due to his struggles with gender identity disorder in the masculine environment.
On Wednesday, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking an unprecedented volume of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The 25-year-old first class Army private appeared not to show any emotion when his long-awaited fate was read out, though spectators gasped inside the military courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Because of the 1,294 days he has already spent in custody, Bradley Manning will immediately shave three and a half years off his 35-year term.
Bradley Manning is eligible for parole after serving at least one-third of the sentence, which means he could be free in eight years, when he’s 33 or 34 years old.
He also learned he will be reduced in grade to the rank of private E1, dishonorably discharged from the military and forfeit all pay and allowances.
In a press conference following the hearing defense attorney David Coombs said he was saddened by the sentence, adding that it didn’t represent the harm his client had caused.
David Coombs said: “When I heard the sentence I thought to myself <<I have represented hundreds of clients some of them have committed murders and some have molested children and those clients received less time than private Manning>>.”
He added that he was surprised by the decision to dishonorably discharge Bradley Manning from the military, adding: “Bradley Manning is a man of honor.”
Bradley Manning, the US soldier convicted of handing a trove of secret government documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Pte First Class Bradley Manning, 25, was convicted in July of 20 charges against him, including espionage.
Last week, he apologized for hurting the US and for “the unexpected results” of his actions.
Prosecutors had asked for a 60-year sentence in order to send a message to future potential leakers.
Bradley Manning will receive a credit against his sentence of about three and a half years, including time he has already served in jail and 112 days in recompense for the harsh conditions of his initial confinement.
He could be eligible for parole in about 11 years.
On Twitter, WikiLeaks called the sentence a “significant strategic victory”.
In the military courtroom in Fort Meade, Maryland, on Wednesday, Judge Col Denise Lind declared Pte Bradley Manning would be demoted to private and dishonorably discharged from the US Army, and forfeit his pay.
While stationed in Iraq in 2010, the junior intelligence analyst passed hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, the pro-transparency group headed by Julian Assange.
Bradley Manning has said he leaked the secret files in the hopes of sparking a public debate about US foreign policy and the military.
Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison in WikiLeaks case
In a statement during the sentencing hearing, Bradley Manning told the court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland that “the last three years have been a learning experience for me”.
He said he mistakenly believed he could change the world for the better, and that in retrospect, he should have worked “inside the system”.
His defense lawyers are expected to make a statement later on Wednesday.
The verdict and sentence will be reviewed, and possibly reduced, by a military district commander and will be automatically reviewed by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
Bradley Manning may also petition the court for lenience during the appeals process.
He is expected to serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International and the Bradley Manning Support Network have announced an online petition asking President Barack Obama to pardon Pte Manning.
The young soldier grew up in Oklahoma and in Wales, where his mother is from, and reportedly joined the US Army to help pay for college.
As an intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning had access to a large amount of very sensitive information, despite his junior rank. He deployed to Iraq in 2009.
A military psychiatrist testified that Bradley Manning had struggled with his gender identity and wanted to become a woman at the time of the leak.
Navy Capt. David Moulton testified that Bradley Manning had felt abandoned by friends and family and that his relationship with his boyfriend had hit a rough patch.
According to evidence presented by the defense, military supervisors ignored Bradley Manning’s erratic behavior, which included trying to grab a gun during a counseling session.
His lawyers said such actions had shown that Bradley Manning had not been fit for duty overseas.
Defense lawyers said Bradley Manning was treated unfairly in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia and in a cell at Camp Arifjan, a US Army installation in Kuwait.
Bradley Manning told the court he remembered thinking: “I’m going to die, I’m stuck inside this cage.”
The leaks enabled WikiLeaks to publish sensitive messages between US diplomats and records of military incidents in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a cockpit video showing a US Apache helicopter killing 12 people in the Iraqi capital in 2007.
The revelations caused significant embarrassment to the US government, and US officials have said the disclosures damaged US relations with its allies and disrupted the war effort in Afghanistan.
Private First Class Bradley Manning has apologized for hurting the US by leaking a trove of classified government documents to WikiLeaks.
At a sentencing hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland, Bradley Manning, 25, said he had mistakenly believed he could “change the world for the better”.
And he said that in retrospect, he should have worked “inside the system”.
Bradley Manning faces up to 90 years in prison following his conviction in July on 20 espionage and other charges.
In an unsworn statement at the hearing in the sentencing phase of his court martial, Bradley Manning said: “I’m sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that it hurt the United States.
“I’m apologizing for the unexpected results of my actions. The last three years have been a learning experience for me.”
Last month, military Judge Colonel Denise Lind convicted Private Bradley Manning of 20 charges including espionage, theft and violating computer regulations.
Bradley Manning had already admitted passing hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks while stationed in Iraq in 2010, saying in a pre-trial hearing he had leaked the secret files in order to spark a public debate about US foreign policy and the military.
In his brief statement on Wednesday, Bradley Manning said he had come to realize he should have worked “more aggressively inside the system” to make the changes he sought.
“When I made these decisions I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I can’t go back and change things.”
Bradley Manning also said he understood he must “pay a price” for his actions, but hoped one day to go to university and have a meaningful relationship with his sister and other family members.
Bradley Manning has apologized for hurting the US by leaking a trove of classified government documents to WikiLeaks
The sentencing phase of the trial has focused on how much damage the WikiLeaks revelations caused. The prosecution has called witnesses who described the impact on US diplomatic relations and on the military’s dealings with Afghan civilians, among other effects.
Bradley Manning has said he never intended to harm US national security.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday the organization that received and published the leaked documents, WikiLeaks, said the statement was “extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system”.
“Mr. Manning’s forced decision to apologize to the US government in the hope of shaving a decade or more off his sentence must be regarded with compassion and understanding,” the anti-secrecy group said.
Ahead of Bradley Manning’s statement, Navy Capt. David Moulton, a psychiatrist, testified that at the time of the leak he felt abandoned by friends and family and had hit a rough patch with his boyfriend amid an isolating deployment.
The psychiatrist interviewed Bradley Manning for 21 hours after his arrest.
Bradley Manning had also decided he wanted to become a woman, Capt. David Moulton said.
In psychiatric terms, Bradley Manning has a “gender identity disorder”, or “disturbance of one’s gender”, Capt. David Moulton said.
This is different from being gay, he added.
“Gender is very much at the core of our identity,” he said, adding that when a person is uncertain about his or her gender, the whole world seems “off-keel”.
Bradley Manning referred to these issues in his statement, saying they were “ongoing” and “a considerable difficulty in my life” but no excuse for his actions.
Amid this turmoil, Bradley Manning also became disillusioned about the US War in Iraq and was trying to correct “injustices”, Capt. David Moulton said.
“Manning was under the impression that the leaked information was going to change how the world saw the war in Iraq,” the psychiatrist testified.
He added that Bradley Manning believed the leaks would ultimately end all war, and the young soldier was unclear about the extent of the punishment he would face for his actions.
“He underestimated how much trouble he would get in, for sure,” Capt. David Moulton said.
“He was really relying on his morals and his ideology and not thinking beyond that.”
Separately, an Army psychotherapist, who treated Bradley Manning while he was in Iraq, said he had begun the process to remove him from the military.
“He was having issues at work,” Capt. Michael Worsley said, adding Bradely Manning’s job as an intelligence analyst had made him even more isolated and anxious.
During treatment, the soldier sent Capt. Michael Worsley an email describing his desire to become a woman and his hopes military life would “get rid of it”, attaching a photo of himself with a blond wig and makeup.
Bradley Manning’s sister and aunt are also on the list of potential defense witnesses.
Private Bradley Manning, who leaked thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, has been convicted of espionage but not of aiding the enemy.
Bradley Manning, 25, has been found guilty of 20 charges in total, including theft and computer fraud.
He had admitted leaking the documents to anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks but said he did so to spark a debate on US foreign policy.
The leak is considered the largest ever of secret US government files.
Bradley Manning faces a maximum sentence up to 136 years. His sentencing hearing is set to begin on Wednesday.
In addition to multiple espionage counts, he was also found guilty of five theft charges, two computer fraud charges and multiple military infractions.
Bradley Manning stood and faced Judge Colonel Denise Lind as she read the decision on Tuesday. She said she would release detailed written findings at a later date.
He appeared to not react during the verdict, but his defense lawyer, David Coombs, smiled faintly as the not guilty charge on aiding the enemy was read.
Private Bradley Manning, who leaked thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, has been convicted of espionage but not of aiding the enemy
“We won the battle, now we need to go win the war,” his defense lawyer, David Coombs said of the sentencing phase.
“Today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire.”
Being found guilty of aiding the enemy could have had serious implications for people leaking documents in the future.
“The government’s pursuit of the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge was a serious overreach of the law, not least because there was no credible evidence of Manning’s intent to harm the USA by releasing classified information to WikiLeaks,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
Among the items sent to WikiLeaks by Pte. Bradley Manning was graphic footage of an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 that killed a dozen people in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, including a Reuters photographer.
The documents also included 470,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and 250,000 secure state department cables between Washington and embassies around the world.
Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst, was arrested in Iraq in May 2010. He spent weeks in a cell at Camp Arifjan, a US Army installation in Kuwait, before being transferred to the US.
During the court martial, prosecutors said Bradley Manning systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of classified documents in order to gain notoriety.
With his training as an intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning should have known the leaked documents would become available to al-Qaeda operatives, they argued.
The defense characterized him as a naive and young soldier who had become disillusioned during his time in Iraq.
His actions, David Coombs argued, were those of a whistle-blower.
In a lengthy statement during a pre-trial hearing in February, Bradley Manning said he had leaked the files in order to spark a public debate about US foreign policy and the military.
Bradley Manning’s supporters rallied outside the court in Fort Meade and said they are planning to march to the White House on Tuesday evening.
US soldier Bradley Manning “systematically harvested” a vast trove of secret documents to share with WikiLeaks, military prosecutors have said.
At the start of Pvt. Bradley Manning’s court martial, a prosecutor said Osama Bin Laden had received leaked information.
But defense lawyers said Pvt. Bradley Manning, 25, was young and naive when he shared the files with the anti-secrecy site.
He has not denied his role in the leak, and faces up to life in prison if convicted of aiding the enemy.
Earlier this year, Pvt. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him related to the leaks, but not to the most serious charge.
The Manning-WikiLeaks case is considered the largest-ever leak of secret US government documents. Prosecutors say the disclosures harmed US national interests, while Pvt. Bradley Manning’s supporters say he is a whistle-blowing hero.
In opening statements on Monday at a military courtroom in Fort Meade, Maryland, prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow called the case an example of what happened “when arrogance meets access”.
Capt. Joe Morrow argued the case was not about a whistleblower’s leak of targeted information.
“This, your honor, this is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of documents from classified databases and then dumped that information on to the internet into the hands of the enemy,” he said.
According to the prosecutor, Pvt. Bradley Manning used his military training to gain the notoriety he craved and attempted to hide what he had done at every step of the process.
He said he would introduce evidence Osama Bin Laden himself had gained access to some of the WikiLeaks information – and had put it to use.
Prosecutors plan to introduce blog entries, a computer, a hard drive and a memory card as evidence against Pvt. Bradley Manning. The military prosecutors will also call witnesses to describe his training and his deployment to Iraq.
In an opening statement, Pvt. Bradley Manning’s lawyer David Coombs said he was “young, naive and good-intentioned” when he arrived in Iraq.
But in late 2009, after an Iraqi died in an attack, he grew disillusioned after seeing his comrades celebrating because no US soldiers had been hurt.
After that incident, Pvt. Bradley Manning began collecting information he thought would “make the world a better place” if public.
“He believed this information showed how we value human life,” David Coombs said.
At the start of Pvt. Bradley Manning’s court martial, a prosecutor said Osama Bin Laden had received leaked information
“He was troubled by that. He believed that if the American public saw it, they too would be troubled.”
The defense lawyer argued that Pvt. Bradley Manning was “selective” in his choice of the hundreds of millions of documents he had access to.
The prosecution’s opening arguments directly relate to the most serious charge against Pvt. Bradley Manning: aiding the enemy. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors must prove Pvt. Bradley Manning acted with intent to aid the enemy and knowingly gave such adversaries US intelligence information.
The prosecution’s argument – that releasing such information on to the internet counts as aiding the enemy – has serious implications for anyone leaking classified information in the future.
The military will aim to show the information was of “great value” to US enemies, but supporters argue all Pvt. Bradley Manning did was make public what should never have been private.
Pvt. Bradley Manning, who was arrested in May 2010 while serving in Iraq, has not denied leaking the documents.
He told a pre-trial hearing in February he divulged the documents to spark a public debate on the role of the US military and foreign policy.
However, prosecutors argue the leaks damaged national security and endangered American lives.
One of the leaked videos shows graphic footage of an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including a Reuters photographer.
Other documents leaked included thousands of battlefield reports from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as secure messages between US embassies and the state department in Washington.
Whatever prison sentence Pvt. Bradley Manning receives will be reduced by 112 days, after a judge ruled he had suffered unduly harsh treatment during his initial detention following his arrest.
The soldier chose to have his court martial heard by a judge instead of a jury. It is expected to run all summer.
Judge Col. Denise Lind ruled in May she would close parts of the trial to the public to protect classified material.
Meanwhile, the UK government said on Sunday it was considering a request from Ecuador to hold talks on the future of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Julian Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for a year, having been granted political asylum there.
He faces extradition to Sweden over s** allegations, which he denies.
What is WikiLeaks?
Website with a reputation for publishing sensitive material
Run by Julian Assange, an Australian with a background in computer network hacking
Released 77,000 secret US records of US military incidents about the war in Afghanistan and 400,000 similar documents on Iraq
Also posted video showing US helicopter killing 12 people – including two journalists – in Baghdad in 2007
Other controversial postings include screenshots of the e-mail inbox and address book of US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin