President Obama officially commuted Chelsea (formally Bradley) Manning’s 35-year sentence, overruling his secretary of defense.
Chelsea Manning was serving a 35-year sentence for stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to Wikileaks. The leaked material included a video of a U.S. helicopter attacking civilians in Iraq in 2007. Manning was convicted of 20 out of a possible 22 charges, including violating the U.S. espionage Act, in 2010.
Manning has attempted suicide twice since being imprisoned in an all-male Army prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She has requested several times to be transferred to a civilian prison.
The commutation was part of Obama’s Tuesday announcement of 209 commutations and 64 pardons.
On January 12, Wikileaks tweeted a promise to turn Julian Assange over to the United States authorities should President Obama grant Manning clemency. Assange currently faces potential espionage charges in the U.S.
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
A presidential commutation is different than a pardon in that allows for a reduction in the prison sentence being served, but does not change the fact of a conviction.
Manning’s commutation has brought up the possibility of a pardon for Edward Snowden, who is responsible for what may be the most damning leak of American military intelligence in history. When asked about the possibility, White House spokesman Joshua Earnest stated that there was a “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.”