Two months after the creation of a White House petition calling on President Barack Obama to commute Chelsea Manning sentence to time served, the outgoing president did just that. According to the New York Times, Obama commuted the United States Army analyst’s 35-year sentence down to just five more months of incarceration at a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Manning, whose leaks made WikiLeaks a household name, must now be freed on Wednesday, May 17th of this year.
Human rights organizations and celebrities have called for Manning’s commuted sentence following news of her mistreatment, which she announced via a hunger strike. Her situation has become especially problematic since the federal government granted Manning her request for gender reassignment surgery — a request the NYT notes “the military has no experience providing.” With Obama’s latest announcement, however, this means both the U.S. Military and the Department of Defense will no longer face the “difficult responsibility” of granting Manning’s request.
Apparently the president’s late clemency came down to applications — one by Manning, and a second by Edward Snowden:
Asked about the two clemency applications on Friday, the White House spokesman, Joshua Earnest, discussed the “pretty stark difference” between Ms. Manning’s case for mercy with Mr. Snowden’s. While their offenses were similar, he said, there were “some important differences.”
“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” he said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”
As of this writing, neither Snowden nor WikiLeaks have officially commented on the news of Manning’s commuted sentence. However, Snowden previously urged Obama to side with Manning: “You alone can save her life.”
(Via New York Times)