Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35-years in jail for one of the largest leaks of classified documents in US history, was finally released on Wednesday after serving seven years.

Manning, 29, was sentenced to a 35-year prison sentence after releasing classified military information to WikiLeaks that she obtained during her time as an army soldier. Due to the large number of leaked documents, Manning’s sentence for whistle-blowing was the  longest in US history.

In a statement, Manning said she is looking to what lies ahead, as that is “far more important than the past”.

She was convicted as Bradley, but soon after her incarceration declared that she had felt female since childhood, and would live the rest of her life as Chelsea.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” she said in a statement at the time. Throughout her time in prison, Manning’s lawyers fought to give her access to drugs for gender dysphoria and have the military refer to her by female pronouns.

Manning said she leaked the military and diplomatic files to spark a debate on the role of the US military and foreign policy. But she later apologised for what she called a mistake, and for “hurting the US”.

Manning has already tweeted several times since being freed, using the hashtag #ChelseaIsFree, and showing her first steps, and bites, as a civilian.

“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said in a statement before her release. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am, and can finally be in the outside world.”

“After another anxious four months of waiting, the day has finally arrived,” she said. “I am looking forward to so much! Whatever is ahead of me, is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now — which is exciting, awkward, fun and all new for me.”