Published On: Tue, Jan 17th, 2017

Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s sentence

President Obama commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, setting up the army intelligence analyst turned high-profile leaker to be freed on May 17, the White House announced Tuesday.

Manning was on a list of 209 commutations and 64 pardons, which may not be Obama’s final act of clemency before he leaves office at midday on Jan. 20. Edward Snowden’s name was not on the list.

Manning was convicted after leaking U.S. military incident logs and diplomatic cables, among other secret government documents to WikiLeaks, in 2010.

In his final scheduled briefing for reporters, White House press secretary Josh Earnest described Manning and Snowden in starkly different terms.

“Chelsea Manning, as a member of the United States armed forces, went through a legal proceeding administered by the United States military under the laws that govern the conduct of members of the United States military, and there was a hearing and a conviction and a sentence,” Earnest said. “It all went through that regular process.  And that’s the way we determine guilt or innocence in this country, particularly with regard to the conduct of men and women in our armed forces.  And that’s the way that our system works.”

But Snowden “should return to the United States and face the serious crimes that with which he’s been charged,” Earnest said. “He will of course be afforded the kind of due process that’s available to every American citizen who’s going through the criminal justice process. But the crimes that he’s accused of committing are serious. And we believe that he should return to the United States and face them rather than seeking refuge in the arms of an adversary of the United States that has their own strategic interests in disseminating information in a harmful way.”

Earlier this week, Wikileaks said on Twitter that its founder, Julian Assange, would agree to be extradited to the United States if Obama granted Manning clemency. He has been living in Ecuador’s embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault.

“If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (US Department of Justice) case,” WikiLeaks said.

Manning’s commutation reads:

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning – Oklahoma City, OK

Offense: One specification of wrongful and wanton publication to the internet intelligence belonging to the United States; five specifications of stealing, purloining or knowingly converting U.S. government records; six specifications of willful communication of information relating to the national defense; one specification of willful communication of information in unlawful possession; one specification of willful communication of information relating to the national defense by exceeding authorized access to a U.S. government computer; one specification of willful communication of information relating to the national defense obtained by accessing a U.S. government computer; five specifications of failure to obey order or regulation; U.S. Army Court Martial

Sentence: 35 years’ imprisonment (August 21, 2013)

Commutation Grant: Prison sentence commuted to expire on May 17, 2017.

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