NEW YORK (AP) – Chelsea Manning believed she had a “responsibility to the public” and didn’t think she was risking national security when she leaked a trove of classified documents, the soldier said in her first interview since being released from a military prison last month.
The 29-year-old formerly known as Bradley Manning said in a pre-taped interview broadcast Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she was prompted to give the 700,000 military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks because of the human toll of the “death, destruction and mayhem” she saw as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq. She told ABC that she has “accepted responsibility” for her actions.
“No one told me to do this. No one directed me to do this. This is me. It’s on me,” she said.
Manning was released from a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 17 after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former President Barack Obama in his final days in office. Obama said in January he felt justice had been served. She hasn’t spoken to Obama since her release, but emotionally thanked him in the interview for giving her “another chance.”
Manning also touched on her struggles dealing with her gender transition while in prison. She says she tried to kill herself twice behind bars and fought for the hormone treatments she says keep her alive.
Manning remains in the Army, but is off duty while she appeals her court-martial conviction.
This story has been updated to correct the date of Manning’s release. She was released on May 17, not May 18.