In one of the last acts of his administration, President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the soldier who was sentenced to serve 35 years for leaking U.S. military secrets.
Manning, who used to go by Bradley but now lives as a woman, is currently serving time at a military prison in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., where she has been jailed for seven years. Her sentence had called for her to be incarcerated until 2045 but, as a result of Obama’s order, she will be free by May of this year, according to the New York Times.
Manning was tried and jailed over her decision to hand over hundreds of thousands of military logs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks, as well as sensitive diplomatic cables that discussed issues like prisoner abuse. When WikiLeaks published the documents, it caused an international outcry and sent the Obama Administration into damage control.
While many regard Manning’s actions as an act of treason, millions of others have hailed her a whistle blower who helped shine light on controversial U.S. military activities.
At her court martial, Manning expressed remorse over for her actions and stated she did not intend to put anyone at risk.
In the years since her conviction, Manning has won sympathy for her plight of having to live as a woman in an all-male prison. A recent Times profile described the struggles of her day-to-day life, as well as her multiple suicide attempts.
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President Obama’s decision to reduce Manning’s sentence came the same day the White House announced commutations for 209 individuals, plus 64 outright pardons.
Tuesday’s announcement notably did not include any mention of Edward Snowden, another famous leaker who is now living in exile in Russia. Snowden, a former NSA contractor who made off with thousands of top secret intelligence documents, fled the U.S. in 2013.