Published: Wed, January 18, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

President Obama commutes the sentence of one of America's most notorious prisoners

President Obama commutes the sentence of one of America's most notorious prisoners

Just three days before leaving office, Obama commuted Manning's 35-year sentence for leaking a huge trove of classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010.

She was serving a 35-year sentence but will now be released on May 17.

At her court-martial, Manning confessed in detail to stealing more than 700,00 military files and diplomatic cables from American embassies and giving the stolen data to Wikileaks.

Julian Assange told Obama that he would be willing to surrender himself to the US if that would be incentive enough to release Manning.

"It is critical that President Obama grant Chelsea Manning's application in recognition of her acting in the public interest, for the treatment she endured in her early pre-trial detention, for due process shortcomings during her trial and to mitigate the chilling effect on future potential whistleblowers", Amnesty said. Supporters feared for her life, as Manning's gender dysphoria and will to have sex reassignment surgery caused considerable grief as she was forced to serve her time in an all-male prison.

"Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result her own human rights have been violated by the US government for years", said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

Earnest added that Snowden "fled into the arms of an adversary", and criticized him for seeking refuge from Russian Federation, calling it "a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy". A former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was known as Obama's favorite general, Cartwright pleaded guilty in October and was sentenced last week to two years in prison. The petition crossed the 100,000 signature mark which earned it a review by the Obama administration.

Snowden thanked activists who campaigned to push for Manning's release, as well as Obama himself.

The day after the verdict, Manning announced that she was a transgender woman. I have never made any excuses for what I did. President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue.

Manning, 29, was convicted of 20 charges in connection with the leaks, including espionage. She attempted to commit suicide twice previous year, and the ACLU lawyer representing her said in a statement today that Obama's decision "could quite literally save Chelsea's life". That, he said, would give her "a first chance to live a real, meaningful life". White House spokesperson Josh Earnest noted that Manning came forward and went through the military's judicial process, while Snowden "fled into the arms of an adversary".

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