President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence officer in prison for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, according to reports.
Manning has served seven of her 35-year sentence — the longest sentence ever imposed by the United States for leaking information,The New York Times reported— and can be freed on May 17.
Manning was locked up in 2010 after handing WikiLeaks 700,000 military files and diplomatic cables. She applied for a pardon three years ago and was denied.
More than 117,000 people signed a petition imploring the outgoing president to shorten Manning’s sentence,NBC reported. Fugitive and former CIA employee, Edward Snowdon, tweeted last Wednesday asking Obama to “save [Manning’s] life.”
“Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency as you exit the White House, please: free Chelsea Manning,” Snowden wrote. “You alone can save her life.”
Manning is a transgender women serving her time in a male prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She tried to commit suicide twice in 2016.
Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said there was a "stark difference" between Manning's crime and Snowden's, with the fugitive’s crimes being "far more serious and far more dangerous."
It doesn’t seem as though Snowden will get his pardon anytime soon as the U.S. government maintains that by leaking information to WikiLeaks, he put national security in jeopardy. Snowden hasn’t filed any paperwork seeking the pardon that would allow him to return to his exile in Russia.
"I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves, so that's not something that I would comment on at this point," Obama told the German newspaper Der Spiegel, CNN reported.
“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” Earnest said last week, The New York Times reported. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”
On Tuesday, 272 other people “learned that the President has given them a second chance."
“While the mercy the President has shown his 1,597 clemency recipients is remarkable, we must remember that clemency is an extraordinary remedy, granted only after the President has concluded that a particular individual has demonstrated a readiness to make use of his or her second chance,” according to the White House blog.
Obama has issued more grants of clemency than any president in the history of the United States.