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Chelsea Manning Is Reportedly on Obama's Shortlist for Commutation

The military whistleblower hopes that the outgoing president will grant her freedom before he leaves office in nine days.
January 11, 2017, 8:51pm
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Chelsea Manning seems to be one step closer to getting a chance at freedom. NBC reported Wednesday that President Obama has placed the military whistleblower on his shortlist for commutation, according to one Justice Department source.

Manning is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking 700,000 classified military files to WikiLeaks as an army intelligence analyst in 2010. The decades-long prison sentence Manning received from a military court was especially harsh in comparison to that of other whistleblowers. Last year, Manning, who is transgender, went on a hunger strike and attempted suicide twice in response to her treatment at Leavenworth military prison.

"I've represented murderers. I've represented rapists. I've represented child molesters. And none of them received 35 years," Manning's defense lawyer, David Coombs, told NBC.

Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, Manning officially launched a White House petition calling on President Obama to grant her clemency before he leaves office. Last month, the petition got more than 100,000 signatures, which means the White House has to issue an official response within 60 days. Obama, who has commuted more sentences than the last 11 presidents combined, still has nine days to make a decision.

"Chelsea has already been incarcerated longer than any other whistleblower. She is fragile," Manning's appeal lawyer, Nancy Hollander, told the Guardian. "The army has an obligation to care for its soldiers yet has utterly failed her. It has failed to take care of her, and it is still failing to do so, and it needs to let her out."

According to NBC News, Obama's decision on the commutation could come as soon as Wednesday.