President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence Chelsea Manning received for leaking documents to Wikileaks in 2010.
The US Army private was scheduled for release in 2045, but Obama’s intervention means she will now be released from Fort Leavenworth on 17 May.
The 29-year-old, born Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for her role in leaking a huge cache of more than 700,000 classified documents and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. The leak was one of the biggest in US history and caused a number of embarrassments for the current and previous US administrations along with US diplomats and their informants around the globe.
Amongst the leaked documents was video footage of an US Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007, which Wikileaks titled “Collateral murder”.
Whilst in prison, Manning twice attempted suicide and went on hunger strike last year, a situation which only ended once the military agreed to provide her with gender dysphoria treatment.
In a statement following the announcement, Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project representing Manning, said:
“I’m relieved and thankful that the president is doing the right thing and commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence.
“Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and has been denied access to medically necessary health care. This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”
Founder of Wikileaks Julian Assange said:
“Thank you to everyone who campaigned for Chelsea Manning’s clemency. Your courage and determination made the impossible possible.”
As part of his final acts as president, Obama commuted the sentence of 209 individuals and pardoned a further 64 people.