Christian evangelist Franklin Graham expressed outrage on May 16 that Chelsea Manning was set to be released from a U.S. military prison on May 17.
Graham vented his disgust on Facebook about Manning's release and the government health care that she will receive:
There’s so much wrong with this, I don’t know where to begin. A transgender soldier -- tried and convicted of espionage -- went into prison as Bradley and is coming out as Chelsea after getting an early release from Leavenworth by former President Barack Obama.
The government paid for hormone treatment while he was in prison, and he’s eligible for sex reassignment surgery to be paid for unless the appeal for his conviction is denied. Really? This man was sentenced to 35 years for releasing hundreds of thousands of secret documents to WikiLeaks! Who knows how many lives he put in danger.
McClatchy reported in November 2010 that U.S. authorities had no evidence showing that Manning's actions had led to any deaths.
Additionally, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in November 2010 that the impact of WikiLeaks releasing diplomatic cables from Manning's leak was "significantly overwrought" by others, noted NPR.
The New York Times reports that Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years for giving the files to WikiLeaks. Manning was convicted under the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that was intended to keep citizens from supporting enemies of the U.S. during wartime. Manning gave the files to WikiLeaks in 2010; the U.S. was not in a declared war at that time.
According to The New York Times, the military charged Manning with "aiding the enemy," based on the theory that providing information to the public had the same effect as providing info to Al Qaeda.
Manning was acquitted of that specific charge by a military judge, but was convicted on several violations of the Espionage Act.
Manning was locked up for about seven years, but President Barack Obama commuted most of her remaining sentence in January 2017 shortly before leaving office.
One of the files released by Manning was a shocking 2007 video of a Iraq engagement in which a U.S. helicopter killed 12 civilians, including two Reuters staff, noted Common Dreams in 2015. None of the U.S. military personnel involved in the killings were charged.
Manning said during her 2013 trial that she was disturbed by the "bloodlust" by some in the military, which she said was "similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass."