Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Washington, Jan 18 (IANS) President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that he is commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of sharing classified materials with WikiLeaks.

The one-time US Army intelligence analyst formerly known as Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but is now set to be released in May after a total of seven years behind bars, Efe news reported.

Manning, a transgender woman, has twice attempted suicide during confinement at Fort Leavenworth, a male military prison in Kansas, US.

Manning, now 29, was arrested in May 2010 while still serving in Iraq and endured more than three years of pre-trial detention under conditions that a formal UN investigation deemed “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

In a 2013 court-martial, the private pleaded guilty to having provided WikiLeaks with 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables as well as video of a 2007 US helicopter attack in Iraq.

None of the documents Manning gave WikiLeaks was classified Top Secret and much of the material was marked only ‘Confidential’.

Military prosecutors requested a sentence of 60 years, but the judge settled on 35 years, by far the longest prison term ever imposed in the United States for leaking classified documents.

Administration officials disclosed in recent days that Manning was on the short list of those being considered for pardons and commutations in the final days of the Obama presidency.

Last week, White House spokesman Josh Earnest pointed to Manning’s remorse as he contrasted her case with that of former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who obtained political asylum in Moscow in 2013 after leaking documents that revealed the US government’s mass surveillance of private communications.

–IANS

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