President Barack Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning’s 35-Year Sentence

Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning U.S. Army via AP, File

President Barack Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence in a large push of commutations and pardons on Tuesday, January 17. According to The New York Times, the transgender former soldier will be released from prison on May 17 instead of in the year 2045.

Manning, previously known as Bradley Manning, has been incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for nearly the past seven years. She was convicted in 2013 of disclosing hundreds of thousands of classified government and military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. Manning, 29, claimed at the time that she made the files public to incite “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest explained the “pretty stark difference” between Manning’s case and that of Edward Snowden on Tuesday, stating that while their offenses were similar, there were “some important differences.” (WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said last year that he would surrender to U.S. authorities if President Obama pardoned Manning.)

US President Barack Obama speaks during a surprise appearance at White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's last daily press briefing of the Obama administration in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, January 17, 2017.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a surprise appearance at White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's last daily press briefing of the Obama administration in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 17, 2017. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” Earnest explained. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

Manning attempted suicide twice during her sentence and last year went on a hunger strike, which she ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender dysphoria treatment.

Including Manning, Obama granted commutations to 209 individuals and pardons to 64 others. 

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