Chelsea Manning, who leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks, had her prison sentence commuted by President Barack Obama in his final days before leaving office.
After being sentenced to 35 years in prison for disclosing secret military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, former Army soldier Chelsea Manning is to be released from prison in May 2017 after the former President commuted her sentence.
Manning was convicted in 2013 of a 2010 leak that made public a large number of confidential documents including military logs from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which compromised the US Army and Government.
Although accepting “full and complete responsibility”, Manning did consider the sentence “extreme” and she requested her release in 2013. The sentence, being by far the longest imposed for a leak conviction in the US, has been considered excessive by Obama’s administration, who also acknowledged and appreciated Manning’s expression of remorse and her taking responsibility for her own crimes.
Critics of Manning’s commutation, such as members of the Republican Party, have considered her leak an act of “espionage”, putting at risk national security and American lives, and immediately judged Obama’s decision as “outrageous” and of being a precedent for future disclosures of confidential information.
Manning’s imprisonment generated the actions of activist groups, including organisations such as Amnesty International, and the conditions she experienced during her time in prison before she was convicted brought up critiques from the United Nations, among others, who considered the experience “inhumane” and “cruel.”
Manning’s status as a transgender woman generated actions of support and solidarity from different organisations, activists and LGBT groups. The commutation of her sentence has therefore generated a large number of positive reactions, including an expression of gratitude from Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Manning has since spoken out against Obama, calling him weak: “the one simple lesson to draw from President Obama’s legacy: do not start off with a compromise.
“They won’t meet you in the middle. Instead, what we need is an unapologetic progressive leader.”
President Trump reacted to Manning’s criticisms of his predecessor, calling her “ungrateful” to Obama for commuting her sentence.