Society

Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's 35-Year Sentence

| by Lauren Briggs

Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who released classified documents to WikiLeaks, will walk free, after President Barack Obama commuted the remainder of her 35-year sentence on Jan. 17.

Manning, who was known upon her 2010 arrest as Bradley Manning, is scheduled for release on May 17 after serving more than six years in prison for leaking the military and government documents in the case that ultimately launched WikiLeaks, reports CNN. Her sentence has been a controversial one, with some people praising the long sentence and others saying it is too harsh and has caused her severe emotional damage, particularly as a transgender woman in a men's federal prison. Manning attempted suicide twice in 2016.

"Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result, her own human rights have been violated by the US government for years," Amnesty International Executive Director Margaret Huang said in a statement, according to CNN. "President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue. It is unconscionable that she languished in prison for years while those allegedly implicated by the information she revealed still haven't been brought to justice."

Others said that Manning damaged national security beyond repair and should complete her sentence.

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"If somebody leaks our state secrets, endangers Americans directly, we need to set an example that is severe and consistent," Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told reporters, calling Manning a "traitor" and saying he was disappointed about her commutation.

Obama also pardoned James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Cartwright pleaded guilty in October to a charge of making false statements in 2012 to federal investigators regarding sharing classified information to journalists regarding Iran's nuclear program.

Throughout his presidency, Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,385 prisoners, 504 of whom were serving life sentences, according to the White House. In total, the president has commuted more sentences than any president in history and more than the last 12 presidents combined. He has also pardoned 212 individuals, including 64 of them that he granted on Jan. 17.

Sources: CNN, White House / Photo credit: Mathew Lippincott/Flickr

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