Chelsea Manning gave her first TV interview since being released from prison last month to ABC’s “Nightline.”
Excerpts of the interview with “Nightline” co-anchor JuJu Chang, which touched on Manning’s reasoning behind leaking military documents, aired on “Good Morning America” on Friday.
Manning, 29, served seven years of a 35-year prison sentence for releasing documents to Wikileaks. She explained that while reviewing military documents as an army private she became unable to separate the facts from the people it was affecting.
“We’re getting all this information from all these different sources and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem,” Manning says. “We’re filtering it all through facts, statistics, reports, dates, times, locations, and eventually, you just stop. I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people.”
She acknowledged that she takes full responsibility for choosing to leak the documents to the public.
“Anything I’ve done, it’s me. There’s no one else. No one told me to do this. Nobody directed me to do this. This is me. It’s on me,” Manning says.
Manning detailed her feelings coming out as transgender right after her sentencing. She says her fight for hormone treatment was a matter of life or death.
“It’s literally what keeps me alive,” Manning says. “It keeps me from feeling like I’m in the wrong body. I used to get these horrible feeling like I just wanted to rip my body apart and I don’t want to have to go through that experience again. It’s really, really awful.”
The former Army intelligence analyst says she has not spoken to Barack Obama since he commuted her sentence as one of his final acts as president. However, she hopes to thank him one day.
“I was given a chance, that’s all I wanted,” Manning says. “That’s all I asked for was a chance, that’s it.”
The full interview airs early next week.