Obama could free whistleblower Chelsea Manning in final act as President
Whistleblower Chelsea Manning is reportedly on President Obama’s ‘shortlist’ for a last-minute commutation, which could see her sentence reduced.
Private Manning, who announced her transition to female in 2013, is currently imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth military prison after leaking details of classified government documents concerning alleged war crimes and rights abuses via WikiLeaks.
Manning has sued the US Army for her right to transition behind bars, and has also taken action against her “unjust” 35-year prison sentence – on the basis that her actions helped make public a large number of serious issues related to military practise.
After Manning attempted to take her own life and embarked on a hunger strike over the issue, the military finally agreed to allow her to undergo gender treatment – but court documents indicate military officials are still refusing to officially recognise her transition.
NBC News reports this week that Manning is reportedly on the “short list” for a commutation from President Obama, who is expected to issue a final round of pardons and commutations as he leaves office.
The outlet reports that a “Justice Department source” confirmed Pvt Manning is “on his short list for a possible commutation”.
The whistleblower’s aunt Deborah Manning told NBC News: “I have more hope right now than I have the entire time since she was sentenced. I do think it’s the last hope for a while.”
The sentence is one of the harshest ever handed to a whistleblower.
Her aunt added: “Thirty-five years is just a long thing to try to imagine, especially when you’re just in your early 20s.
“I would say this is someone who’s never had a chance in life, who is extremely bright, who became extremely emotionally distressed as some point, who made a bad decision, who paid for that bad decision.
“And it’s time to let her go out and try to make a positive contribution in the world.
“I really believe the judge felt she needed to send some sort of message. I think in a way she was a scapegoat for Edward Snowden.”