Former US army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been photographed wearing a red swimsuit by Annie Leibowitz for the 125th anniversary September issue of American Vogue.
The 29-year-old was released from Fort Leavenworth prison on 17 May after former president Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence in one of his final acts in office.
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She had been imprisoned for being responsible for one of the largest intelligence leaks in modern history, when she sent hundreds of thousands of top secret documents to WikiLeaks while serving in the army in 2007. One of the videos she sent showed the military killing unarmed Iraqi citizens.
Shortly before sentencing, Manning came out as transgender, and was successful in petitioning for hormone therapy while she was in prison. In the image she shared of her Vogue shoot, she simply captioned it: 'I guess this is what freedom looks like.'
She goes into detail in the interview about growing up trans and says that the army was a way for her to come to terms with it: 'I knew that I was different. I gravitated more toward playing house, but the teachers were always pushing me toward playing the more competitive games with the boys. I spent so much time wondering, What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I fit in?'
She also defends her former actions, explaining that she felt she had no choice: 'I think it’s important to remember that when somebody sees government wrongdoing – whether it’s illegal or immoral or unethical – there isn’t the means available to do something about it ... Everyone keeps saying: "You should have gone through the proper channels!" But the proper channels don’t work.'
Elsewhere in the interview, she talks about her future, including plans to run for political office, saying: 'My goal is to use these next six months to figure out where I want to go. I have these values that I can connect with: responsibility, compassion. Those are really foundational for me. Do and say and be who you are because, no matter what happens, you are loved unconditionally.'
The September issue of US Vogue is on sale now.