But, in January this year, former US President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in one of his last acts in the White House.
The New York Times reports that Manning was "sentenced to an unprecedented 35-year prison term for disclosing archives of secret files to WikiLeaks", some of which the newspaper published, but was not criminally charged for doing so. She gained later attention following her sentencing, for her announcement that she was transgender and would begin to identify as Chelsea.
- Starting in November 2010, five major global news organizations - The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais - collaborated with WikiLeaks to partially publish more than a quarter of a million State Department cables from USA embassies and consulates dated 1966 to 2010.
"For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea", she said in a statement last week ahead of her release. "I've been rooting for you the whole time", one person wrote.
Manning's lawyers asked for privacy.
Manning's defence team is intent on protecting her, while the military is keen on keeping her release low-key.
Over the years, Manning, who has had a Twitter account since 2013, has remained vocal about her imprisonment, transition, and politics.More news: Trump administration issues formal call to renegotiate NAFTA
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Anyone familiar with Manning's case knows that life for the private first class soldier has been incredibly tumultuous following her 2013 conviction. In the days before his inauguration, Trump tweeted that Manning was a "Ungrateful TRAITOR" who "should never have been released from prison".
She will now assist with a documentary about her life.
$140,000 has been raised on-line to help Manning re-acclimate and start a new life. The 32-track album also features songs by frequent Bruce Springsteen collaborator Tom Morello's acoustic solo project The Nightwatchman, founding Sonic Youth singer/guitarist Thurston Moore and a variety of others artists.
Manning has also surreptitiously become an icon for transgender activists.
Manning was found guilty of more than 20 charges related to the leaks and was set to serve 35 years for her crimes.
She is also still employed by the army, and retains its insurance coverage.
One of the files released by Manning was a shocking 2007 video, "Collateral Murder", of a USA helicopter killing 12 civilians, including two Reuters staff, in Iraq, noted Common Dreams in 2015; none of the us military personnel involved in the killings were charged.