President Obama has commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army private who leaked a massive trove of military secrets to WikiLeaks.
Her prison sentence has been shortened to expire on May 17, 2017, according to a statement from the White House.
This commutation was issued along with 208 others. Obama also pardoned 64 individuals, including retired Gen. James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to federal authorities.
Manning, a transgender woman formerly known as Bradley, has requested clemency from Obama and said her life was at risk in an all-male prison, as we reported. She has admitted to “releasing more than 700,000 documents, including battlefield reports and U.S. embassy cables.”
Her lawyers at the ACLU expressed relief after the decision, saying that Manning has already served more time behind bars than any other whistleblower in U.S. history, and under difficult conditions.
“Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and has been denied access to medically necessary health care,” said lawyer Chase Strangio in a statement. “This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”
Amnesty International USA’s executive director Margaret Huang argued in a statement that the move is long overdue:
“Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result her own human rights have been violated by the U.S. government for years. … President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue. It is unconscionable that she languished in prison for years while those allegedly implicated by the information she revealed still haven’t been brought to justice.”
Cartwright “had been charged with falsely telling FBI investigators that he did not provide classified information for a book written by New York Times reporter David Sanger,” The Two-Way reported.
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