President Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning’s Prison Sentence

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United States Army

President Barack Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence, who is to be freed from jail in May.

The 29-year-old transgender U.S. Army private, born Bradley Manning, will be freed on 17 May instead of her scheduled 2045 release.

Manning became one of the most prominent whistleblowers of modern times when she exposed the nature of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks.

She was sentenced to 35 years in 2013 but has been given her freedom by President Barack Obama just three days before he leaves the White House.

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Manning, who was born a male and arrested in 2010 as Bradley Manning, now identifies as female.

She was found guilty of providing more than 700,000 documents, diplomatic cables, battlefield accounts and videos to WikiLeaks in what is believed to be the largest breach of classified materials in American history.

Since her incarceration the former army intelligence analyst attempted suicide twice last year and went on a hunger strike at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

She continued her protest for under a week until doctors allowed her to receive gender reassignment surgery. However, a military doctor has refused to change her gender on her military records.

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In the final days of his presidency, Obama commuted a total of 209 sentences, pardoning 64 people at the same time. Since entering the White House eight years ago, he has commuted the sentences of 1,385 people – the most issued by any president in US history.

White House Counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a statement:

While the mercy the President has shown his 1,597 clemency recipients is remarkable, we must remember that clemency is an extraordinary remedy, granted only after the President has concluded that a particular individual has demonstrated a readiness to make use of his or her second chance.

Only Congress can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure over the long run that our criminal justice system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.