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Bradley Manning granted right to change first name to Chelsea

Wikileaks leaker Manning says the name Chelsea is "a far better, richer and more honest reflection" of her identity.

By Frances Burns
Bradley Manning granted right to change first name to Chelsea
U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning is pictured in this April 24, 2010 file photo released by the U.S. Army. Manning sent an email to an Army supervisor titled 'My Problem' detailing his struggles with gender identity and attached to the email a photo of himself wearing a blonde wig and make up entitled Breanna.jpg. Manning apologized before a military judge on Wednesday for the "unintended consequences" of his massive leak of classified information, including State Department cables, to Wikileaks. (File/U.S. Army/UPI)

LEAVENWORTH, Kan., April 23 (UPI) -- The soldier convicted as Bradley Manning of giving classified documents to Wikileaks can legally call herself Chelsea Manning, a Kansas judge said Wednesday.

Manning, an enlisted soldier who served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, is currently serving a 35-year military sentence at Fort Leavenworth.

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In a statement after the decision, Manning said her new name is "a far better, richer, and more honest reflection of who I am and always have been -- a woman named Chelsea."

It is unclear what effect the court order will have on Manning's treatment in the military justice system. Courthouse News Service reported before the sentencing that a Fort Leavenworth spokeswoman said the facility does not provide any special medical treatment for transgendered inmates.

Manning is seeking hormone treatments to become a woman biologically.

The Defense Department announced last week that Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan had approved Manning's sentence, refusing to reduce it.

Manning is a hero to many people and a villain to others. Supporters say that the leaks, including thousands of pages of diplomatic cables and military documents, shed light on U.S. operations in Iraq and on despotic regimes around the world.

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The leaks may have helped kickstart the "Arab Spring" demonstrations in North Africa and the Middle East. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stepped down in 2011 amidst angry protests after Wikileaks released U.S. cables detailing his lavish lifestyle.

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