Barrack Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

President Barack Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence.  She was sentenced to thirty five years in prison after leaking documents to Wikileaks in 2010.

Manning will now be released on the 17th May this year, instead of in 2045.

Chelsea Manning is a transgender individual and was born Bradley Manning and was a US Army private at the time of the leak.  Manning gave Wikileaks diplomatic cables.  The leak was one of the largest in US history.

The reduction in Manning’s sentence is not a pardon which some campaigners have called for.  Nonetheless, her Uncle, Kevin Fox, said the family was “over the moon”.

“It’s sooner than we expected – we didn’t expect his case even to be looked at for another three or four years.”  He referred to Chelsea as a man.

The sentiment was repeated by her Welsh family who she lived with for four years as a teenager.

Manning’s Turbulent Prison Life

Manning’s time in prison has been turbulent.  She twice tried to kill herself while at the male military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and went on hunger strike in 2016.  She ended the strike after the military agreed to provide gender transition treatment.

Manning joins 209 individuals who have had their sentences commuted by President Obama in one of his final acts as president.  He has pardoned 64 other individuals.

No Pardon for Snowden

One that wasn’t offered a pardon was Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor.

He leaked information to Wikileaks about mass surveillance programmes being carried out by the organisation and its British counterpart GCHQ.

He is currently living in Russia after fleeing the U.S.  He has received a two-year extension to his temporary asylum.

The news of Manning’s release has been met with predictably mixed reactions.  David Coombs told the BBC it was “a great act of mercy by President Obama” while Senator John McCain said it was “a grave mistake that I fear will encourage further acts of espionage”.