Wikileak’s Bradley Manning: ‘I Am A Woman Named Chelsea’

Bradley Manning, the US soldier who leaked secret US government documents to the Wikileaks website, has announced he wants to live as a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning,” Pte First Class Manning, 25, said in a statement to NBC’s Today programme. “I am a female.”

He said he had felt female since childhood, wanted at once to begin hormone therapy, and wished to be addressed as Chelsea.

He has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for crimes including espionage.

He could be released on parole after at least seven years in jail, his civilian lawyer David Coombs has said.

Mr Coombs has asked President Barack Obama to pardon Pte Manning, and has pledged to appeal against the verdict and sentence.

Mental health effect

Pte Manning will serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and on Thursday, Mr Coombs indicated he was willing to take legal action to force the prison to provide hormone therapy if authorities refused.

He said Pte Manning had not indicated whether he wanted to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

“The ultimate goal is to be comfortable in her skin and to be the person that she’s never had an opportunity to be,” he said.

Asked why Pte Manning was making this announcement now, the day after his sentencing, Mr Coombs said: “Chelsea didn’t want to have this be something that overshadowed the case.”

Pte Manning’s struggles with his identity formed a key part of his defence through his weeks-long court martial.

Defence witnesses, including therapists who had treated Pte Manning, testified he had said he wanted to transition to being a woman, suggesting his problems with his gender identity affected his mental health.

US military prosecutors, meanwhile, described Pte Manning as a notoriety-seeking traitor and asked for a 60-year sentence in order to deter future intelligence leakers.

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