United States President Barack Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning’s 35 year military prison sentence for passing classified files to Wikileaks.
The presidential order for clemency reduces Manning’s sentence from 35 years, with a 2045 release, to just over seven years — most of which Manning has already served. Manning will be released from custody on 17 May 2017.
ABC News reports that Obama announced the commutation alongside 208 others and 64 complete pardons as one of his final acts in office.
Manning served as an army intelligence analyst in the American military, and was convicted in connection with the leak in 2010 that make Wikileaks and its Australian founder Julian Assange famous — revealing the previously unknown details of global American military and diplomatic activities around the world.
Chelsea Manning was convicted by a US military court in July 2013 of violating the Espionage Act for copying and transferring 750,000 classified or “sensitive” documents to Wikileaks, including footage of a 2007 airstrike in Baghdad that was published by the radical transparency group under the name Collateral Murder. Manning also accessed and shared with Wikileaks over 250,000 US State Department cables covering the United States’ foreign relations interactions with countries including Australia.
While Wikileaks’ stated mission has evolved in the years since Manning’s arrest and jailing, Manning’s pivotal role in the early stage of the organisation’s life was responsible for it being an important part of internet journalism in President Obama’s first and second terms in office. The 35-year prison sentence imposed on Manning was, according to the New York Times, the longest ever imposed for leaking classified government information.
Earlier this month, Wikileaks said on Twitter that if Manning’s sentence was commuted and she was granted clemency, Wikileaks founder Assange would allow himself to be extradited from the UK, where he is currently living under the diplomatic safety of the Ecuadorian embassy, to face charges of espionage.