WASHINGTON – Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified military and diplomatic materials to WikiLeaks, announced plans Thursday to live as a woman while confined in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth.
“As I transition into this new phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning said in a letter released on NBC’s “Today” show. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.”
Testimony in Manning’s 8-week court-martial, which ended with sentencing Wednesday at Fort Meade, Md., showed the 25-year-old former junior intelligence analyst in Iraq had suffered for years with a “gender identity disorder.”
According to testimony, Manning and a boyfriend broke up in late 2009 and early 2010. The event proved so traumatic, lawyers said, that Manning soon began downloading hundreds of thousands of classified files and transmitting them to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which later posted them on the Internet.
In April 2010, Manning sent an email to a sergeant saying: “This is my problem. I have had signs of it for a very long time,” and attached a personal photograph wearing dark lipstick and a blond wig. Manning was arrested in May 2010 and ultimately convicted of espionage, fraud and theft.
In the letter released Thursday, Manning said, “I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”
George Marcec, a spokesman at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., which houses about 435 prisoners, said hormone therapy would not be available there.