President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning Tuesday, so that the former Army analyst will be released from prison in May 2017 rather than in 2045, The New York Times reports.
Manning was charged with treason in 2010, after she leaked thousands of documents revealing American military and diplomatic secrets with the help of WikiLeaks. She was then known as Bradley Manning, and she announced that she was transgender after being sentenced.
While some think the commutation is wrong because Manning committed a crime, her sentence of 35 years was the longest ever for a leak, with the Times reporting that most people convicted of similar crimes only serve one to three years. She’s now been in prison for seven years, and has endured serious hardship. The military wasn’t sure how to handle Manning being transgender, and she hasn’t been able to transition as she’d like to. She’s also had to serve her time in an all-male prison. Manning has tried to commit suicide twice while in prison.
“Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result, her own human rights have been violated by the US government for years,” Margaret Huang, the executive director of the ACLU, which represented Manning, said in a statement. “President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue. It is unconscionable that she languished in prison for years while those allegedly implicated by the information she revealed still haven’t been brought to justice.”
“The bottom-line is this: I need help and I am still not getting it,” Manning wrote in her clemency application. “I am living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression.
Manning will be released May 17.