In one of his most dramatic final moves as president, Barack Obama commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army soldier who leaked military secrets to Wikileaks.
According to a statement from the White House, Manning’s prison sentence was adjusted to have her release date set for May 17, 2017 — a commutation from the outgoing president that was issued along with 208 others.
In the wake of Obama’s decision, eyes are turning towards Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who lobbied heavily for Manning’s release, even pledging to allow himself to be extradited to the U.S. in the event that Obama commuted Manning’s sentence. On January 12, Wikileaks’ official Twitter account declared, “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case.”
If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case https://t.co/MZU30SlfGK
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 12, 2017
Assange, who is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in self-imposed exile to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces sexual assault charges, hasn’t yet commented on Obama’s decision.
Manning, a transgender woman formerly known as Bradley, had requested clemency from Obama saying she feared for her life in an all-male prison and has attempted suicide twice during her sentence. She received the longest sentence ever given to “any whistleblower in U.S. history,” according to her lawyers.
Let it be said here in earnest, with good heart: Thanks, Obama. https://t.co/IeumTasRNN
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 17, 2017
“Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and has been denied access to medically necessary health care,” Manning’s lawyer Chase Strangio in a statement. “This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”
Although there’s still no official word from Assange, Wikileaks tweeted, “VICTORY: Obama commutes Chelsea Manning sentence from 35 years to 7. Release date now May 17.”
Featured image via YouTube