President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, a transgender and former intelligence analyst for the Army who was imprisoned for leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks. Obama’s decision to reduce the sentence of the whistleblower is being attributed to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Manning, who was born as Bradley Edward Manning, joined the U.S. military in 2007. In 2013, Manning leaked over 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks while serving in Iraq as an intelligence analyst. The massive leak included a video of an airstrike carried out in Baghdad in 2007 which resulted in the deaths of two Reuters staff members, according to The Verge.
Due to her actions, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Her sentence has been reduced to seven years through the commutation. Since she has already served the bulk of her reduced sentence, she is scheduled to be released on May 17.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest and counsel Neil Eggleston noted that although Manning was found guilty of her crimes, she went through the formal military justice process. Aside from serving her sentence, she also acknowledged her wrongdoing and has demonstrated her willingness to comply with the law following her release from prison.
For quite some time now, civil rights groups have been lobbying for the release of Manning due to her declining health condition in prison. Aside from lacking access to proper health care, she spent a long time in solitary confinement for attempting to commit suicide twice.
But, even though these groups are committed in their efforts in pushing for Manning’s pardon, the commutation is being attributed to the actions of Assange. Earlier this month, WikiLeaks announced that Assange is willing to surrender himself to the U.S. if the government agrees to grant Manning clemency. For several years now, U.S. and E.U. authorities have been trying to target Assange for extradition due to the rape allegations made against the notable whistleblower.