As the end of the current administration draws near, President Obama is handing out pardons and commuting sentences. On Tuesday he commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea (originally Bradley) Manning. While the commutation doesn’t pardon Manning’s actions, it prevents him from living out his life in prison.
Manning worked as an intelligence analyst. In 2010 he leaked secrets to Wikileaks that exposed American military and diplomatic activities.
Manning tried to commit suicide twice in 2016 and has made headlines for his attempts to live as a transgender woman incarcerated in the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Manning has currently served 7 years of a 35 year sentence. Manning’s sentence was the longest of any American ever convicted of leaking information.
Obama’s commutation will free Manning on May 17 of this year.
Manning is one of two notorious figures from the Obama era convicted of leaking information. Edward Snowden is the other. Snowden is living in Russia as a fugitive.
White House spokesman, Joshua Earnest says that there are no plans for commuting the sentence of Snowden, noting the “pretty stark difference” between the two cases.
“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.”
Earnest characterized the files Manning leaked as“damaging to national security.” Snowden’s leak was “far more serious and far more dangerous.”
“I take full and complete responsibility for my decision to disclose these materials to the public,” Manning wrote in his commutation application. “I have never made any excuses for what I did. I pleaded guilty without the protection of a plea agreement because I believed the military justice system would understand my motivation for the disclosure and sentence me fairly. I was wrong.”