White House says early release of Chelsea Manning down to ‘pursuit of justice’

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The White House has said that Chelsea Manning had her sentence dramatically reduced in “pursuit of justice”.

President Obama yesterday announced that he planned to commute the sentence of transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning, in one of his final acts as President.

Private Manning, who announced her transition to female in 2013, was imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth military prison after leaking details of classified government documents concerning alleged war crimes and rights abuses via WikiLeaks.

White House says early release of Chelsea Manning down to ‘pursuit of justice’

Manning has sued the US Army for her right to transition behind bars, and has also taken action against her “unjust” 35-year prison sentence – on the basis that her actions helped make public a large number of serious issues related to military practise.

After Manning attempted to take her own life and embarked on a hunger strike over the issue, the military finally agreed to allow her to undergo gender treatment – but court documents indicate military officials are still refusing to officially recognise her transition.

NBC News previously reported that Manning was on the “short list” for a commutation from President Obama, issued a final round of pardons and commutations as he leaves office.

After it was confirmed that Obama had commuted the sentence, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said it was done “in pursuit of justice”.

He said: “Chelsea Manning was convicted of serious crimes.

“She also took responsibility for those crimes. She expressed remorse for those crimes,” he added.

Manning will now be released on 17 May, instead of in 2045.

Earnest said Manning’s sentence was “much longer than the sentence that was handed down to people who committed similar crimes that got much less attention.”

The sentence was one of the harshest ever handed to a whistleblower.

“President Obama has a strong record regarding the humane treatment of prisoners and a long commitment to LGBTQ equality,” said HRC Communications Director Jay Brown reacting to the news.

“The decision to commute Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s remaining sentence – after she served nearly 7 years for her crimes – reflects that record. We hope Pvt. Manning soon can access the care and treatment that she, and every transgender person, deserves.”

Wikileaks boss Julian Assange earlier this week offered to surrender himself to authorities if President Obama followed through on reports he was considering freeing Chelsea Manning.

But Assange has since backed away from the claims.

An investigation recently suggested that Wikileaks data dumps endangered gay men in Saudi Arabia.

A probe of 120,000 Saudi files dumped on Wikileaks revealed the documents included private health and crime records, exposing personal data of everyday Saudis.

It identified at least one man with a gay sex conviction – as well as a number of rape victims and people living with HIV.