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Chelsea Manning Gives First Interview Since Prison

Chelsea Manning's first interview after being imprisoned for seven years by the U.S. military in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was broadcast on June 9.

The 29-year-old Army intelligence analyst, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in jail after giving WikiLeaks 700,000 classified military and U.S. Department of State files in 2010, The Associated Press reports. Former President Barack Obama commuted Manning's sentence, and she was released from a military jail on May 17.

ABC News' "Good Morning America" journalist Juju Chang asked Manning if she owed the American people an apology for disclosing the classified files.

"I accept the responsibility," Manning stated, according to The Independent. "No one told me to do this. No one directed me to do this. This is me. It’s on me."

One of the files Manning disclosed was the infamous "Collateral Murder" video of U.S. troops in Apache helicopters killing Reuters journalists in Baghdad in 2007. A van pulled up to help the victims, and the U.S. helicopters opened fire on the van, killing more people and wounding two children, noted Reuters at the time. None of the servicemen involved with the killings were charged.

"We’re getting all this information from all these different sources and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem," Manning recalled. "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."

Manning's disclosure also included the Guantanamo Bay files, which exposed the U.S. torture of detainees, and prisoners being held on flimsy or no evidence, under the Bush administration, notes The Guardian. Two of the detainees were a kidnapped 14-year-old boy and an 89-year-old Afghan who suffered from senile dementia.

Chang asked Manning about disclosing information to U.S. enemies by revealing it to the public, and Manning replied: "I have a responsibility to the public. We all have a responsibility."

Manning also discussed coming out as a transgender woman: "I had to be who I am," according to The Washington Post.

After the U.S. Army denied Manning's request for hormonal treatment, she tried to commit suicide twice, which landed her in solitary confinement, The Independent notes. Manning fought for her hormone treatment while incarcerated.

"It's literally what keeps me alive," she said. "It keeps me from feeling like I’m in the wrong body."

The U.S. Army ultimately allowed Manning to have hormone treatments, which her lawyers fought for.

Chang asked Manning what she would say to President Obama, to which she replied:  "Thank you for giving me a chance. That’s all I asked for was a chance, that’s it. And this is my chance," Politico reports.

Sources: ABC News/YouTube, AP, Reuters, The Guardian, The Independent, The Washington Post, Politico / Photo Credit: Tim Travers Hawkins/Wikimedia Commons

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