Chelsea Manning, former Army intelligence analyst, was convicted of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and sentenced to 35 years in jail.
The US Army has previously confirmed Manning will remain an active duty soldier, although in an unpaid status. In January, one of Barack Obama's final acts as president was to commute Manning's sentence, which allowed the whistleblower to go free on May 17.
Manning, who announced that she was transgender after her sentencing, attempted suicide twice while incarcerated in a male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, where she has spent large stretches in solitary confinement.
The documents ranged from embarrassing diplomatic cables that revealed how USA envoys really felt about friends and foes alike, to videos showing a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan in 2009 that left more than 100 civilians dead and footage of a United States helicopter attack in Iraq that killed two Reuters journalists. The day after she was sentenced, Manning revealed that she was a trans woman and changed her name from Bradley to Chelsea.
Manning, who was originally known as Pvt.
In a recent interview with NPR, Steven Nelson, a reporter with U.S. News and World Report, clarified why Obama made a decision to significantly shorten the original 35-year sentence handed to Manning. "I am looking forward to so much".
She walked out of prison still on active duty with the USA military, because soldiers serving out prison terms are still considered to be active duty, but most experts suspect she will be dishonorably discharged before the end of the week.
Manning said she released the documents to WikiLeaks because she felt the US military was ignoring the trauma that many civilians suffered from as a result of war. As such, she may be entitled to military benefits, including healthcare. Now, she can complete her transition as a free, openly transgender woman.
She added: "Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past".
Manning was arrested by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division on May 27, 2010 and accused of 22 charges, including violating articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Espionage Act.
Others, however, have chosen to celebrate Manning's freedom, while properly identifying her. The request was eventually granted but her sentence was commuted before she could obtain the operation, according to the Washington Post.
During Manning's trial in 2013, testimony showed that she had been deteriorating, mentally and emotionally.
Last week, Manning tweeted her excitement about her impending release: "Freedom was only a dream, and hard to imagine".