Chelsea Manning takes her first steps of freedom

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- The U.S. Army released Private Chelsea Manning early Wednesday morning from the disciplinary barracks here.

Manning served seven years of a 35 year sentence for leaking national security secrets.

Manning tweeted a photo, writing, "first steps of freedom."

The army says Manning remains an active duty soldier, eligible for health care benefits.

Taxpayers have paid for her transgender hormone treatments while she's been locked up.

Manning entered the army as a man, known as Bradley, and was convicted of releasing hundreds of thousands of secret documents to the website Wikileaks.

Manning had been serving a 35 year sentence behind bars for the court martial conviction, when President Obama commuted the punishment during his final days in office.

That upset some in the armed forces, and in a military town like Leavenworth, many share that sentiment.

"I think he or she should not have been released as soon," said Marian Onamer. "And other people have gone to prison for a lot less than that and stayed in. And for her to be coming out and to be going back on active duty, I think that’s really outrageous."

Earlier this week Manning released a statement saying that she now can imagine a future as Chelsea. She looks forward to surviving and living her life in the outside world. Her lawyer claims she had been abused while at Fort Leavenworth.

While in prison Manning sought sex reassignment surgery paid for by the government. She is appealing her conviction. If she loses, she could be dishonorably discharged.