Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning at the time of her arrest in 2010, has had her prison sentence commuted by President Barrack Obama.
The 29-year-old transgender U.S. army intelligence analyst was convicted of leaking classified government and military documents to WikiLeaks—one of the largest breaches of classified information in U.S. history. WikiLeaks is a national non-profit organization that publishes private information from anonymous sources.
More than 700,000 documents, diplomatic cables, battlefield accounts and videos were leaked and included sensitive messages between U.S. diplomats and military records from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A video revealing footage of a Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007 was amongst the leaked files.
Manning, who attempted suicide twice last year, was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but will now be released on May 17th. She is among the 209 total inmates who’s sentences have been shortened by Obama.
Manning’s attorney, Chase Strangio, said he was “relieved and thankful” because she has been subjected to long periods of solitary confinement and denied access to medically necessary health care.
Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor now living as a fugitive in Russia who leaked classified information on warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, praised Obama’s move on Twitter:
Let it be said here in earnest, with good heart: Thanks, Obama. https://t.co/IeumTasRNN
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 17, 2017
Obama has been under pressure to release Manning. WikiLeaks has said that it’s founder Julian Assange, currently living in refuge in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, will agree to extradition if Manning was freed:
If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US prison in exchange — despite its clear unlawfulness https://t.co/MZU30S3Eia
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 15, 2016
In addition to the 209 commutations, Obama also pardoned 64 others, including retired General James Cartwright, who was declared guilty of making false statements during an examination of the disclosure of classified information.
The majority of the others receiving commutations were serving sentences for non-violent drug charges.
President-elect Donald Trump has yet to comment.
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