Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of a 2010 intelligence leak, has had her remaining prison sentence commuted by President Obama. Under the terms of Obama’s commutation, Manning is set to be released in five months, on May 17th, rather than in 2045.
Manning, who came out as trans in 2013, was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act, when, as a private first class in the military, she leaked more than 100,000 classified government documents to WikiLeaks.
Manning was transferred to Fort Leavenworth in 2011, and during the seven years she was incarcerated, she tried to kill herself twice. Instead of offering support for the prisoner, who was seeking assistance for gender dysphoria – as well as gender affirming treatment – she was subjected to solitary confinement, which spurred many activists sympathetic to her plight to call for her release.
Last year, Anohni, the Oscar-nominated transgender singer who recorded 2016’s Hopelessness, added to a plea by the ACLU in a video entitled “Obama.” She wrote in a heartfelt message, “If you leave Chelsea Manning in prison for whistleblowing, you send the final message to our nation that the Obama administration brutally punished moral courage in these unforgiving United States.”
The news of the commutation comes several days after Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, tweeted that he would agree to extradition if Obama granted clemency to Manning. The Daily Mail also reported that fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden also appealed to Obama on Manning’s behalf.
Obama granted commutations to a total of 209 individuals Tuesday, bringing his total number of commutations to 1,385 – the highest number of any president, according to the White House.