President Barack Obama has shortened the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former US military intelligence analyst who was responsible for a 2010 leak of classified materials to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
Manning has been a focus of a worldwide debate on government secrecy since she provided more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks – a leak for which she was sentenced to serve 35 years in prison. Obama, in one of his final acts before leaving office, reduced her sentence to seven years.
Manning was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010 when she gave WikiLeaks a trove of diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts that included a 2007 gunsight video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people including two Reuters news staff.
Manning was born male but revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identifies as a woman. The White House said her sentence would end on May 17 this year.
Prison has been tough on Manning who has tried to kill herself twice. Obama said that one of the reason that she has been pardoned is that she accepted responsibility for leaking the material.
The official said Obama’s decision was rooted in Manning’s sentence being longer than sentences given to others who had committed comparable crimes. Obama, who leaves office on Friday and is scheduled to give his final news conference on Wednesday, is expected to discuss his decision then.
The move has been welcomed by Amnesty International which has said that Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and her own human rights have been violated by the US government for years.
The Republicans are furious claiming that Manning’s leaks had put US lives in danger. Of course that is not as dangerous as having a president who owes the Russians lots of money.