President Obama is commuting the bulk of the prison sentence for Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence officer convicted of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, according to a Tuesday report from The New York Times.
Manning, a transgender woman who was punished for twice attempting suicide in the last year, is now slated to be released from the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas mens prison where she has been in custody for almost seven years, on May 17–in exactly five month’s time–rather than her scheduled release in 2045.
Just before the commutation was announced, there were indications that the president was seriously weighing the fates of both Manning and whistleblower Edward Snowden, although White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday afternoon that there is a “pretty stark difference” between the campaigns for clemency.
With the announcement, some put pressure on WikiLeaks to deliver on its promise just five days ago to deliver Julian Assange to the U.S.
When Manning was deployed to Iraq in 2009, she still went by Bradley. In the nearly 250,000 diplomatic cables and hundreds of thousands of other military logs she supplied to Wikileaks–disclosures that made the fledgling organization a force in international politics–Manning revealed widespread abuses of detainees in Iraqi custody and that the civilian death toll in Iraq was much higher than originally thought.
In her application for commutation, Manning said her 35-year sentence is “extreme” and without “historical precedent.”
“I take full and complete responsibility for my decision to disclose these materials to the public,” Manning wrote, according to the Times. “I have never made any excuses for what I did. I pleaded guilty without the protection of a plea agreement because I believed the military justice system would understand my motivation for the disclosure and sentence me fairly. I was wrong.”
During her time in custody, Manning was allowed some accommodations as treatment for her gender dysphoria, and the Army had agreed to allow her to undergo gender reassignment surgery in the future.