US President Barack Obama has one commendable exception to his term when he commuted the sentence of soldier Chelsea Manning in Wikileaks Case, which may free her in 4 months instead of 2045 as she was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Chelsea Manning was convicted of stealing secret diplomatic and military documents and disclosing them to WikiLeaks. Others who had been granted pardon included retired Marine General James Cartwright, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in Iran’s nuclear program.
Unlike Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents in 2013 and then fled the country, the White House said Manning did not try to avoid facing the U.S. justice system. “Chelsea Manning is somebody who accepted responsibility for the crimes she committed,” a senior White House official told Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.
Besides Manning, Obama granted clemency to 209 individuals and pardoned an additional 64. He is expected to grant more commutations before January 20 when he leaves office. Obama has commuted 1,385 sentences since 2014, almost the same as all 12 previous US presidents did commute together. Of those, 540 low-level drug offenders had been serving life sentences.
The commutation of Manning’s sentence, the White House officials said, has nothing to do with a recent pledge by Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, that he would agree to be extradited to the US, if Manning’s sentence was commuted.
Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010 for transmitting documents to WikiLeaks pertaining to the Iraq and Afghanistan “War Logs”, videos, documents on Guantanamo Bay prisoners, besides 250,000 State Department cables. Chelsea Manning, a transgender by admission, said the motive to raise public awareness about the effect of war on innocent civilians. She tried to commit suicide twice in her prison.