By Rishi Shah
Technology & Innovation Writer
Chelsea Manning, formally known as Bradley Edward Manning was officially commuted to serve only 7 years of her 35-year sentence for leaking highly secretive and volatile documents from the United States government. After releasing over 750,000 documents to Wikileaks, this would be known as one of the largest and controversial cases of espionage in the United States, Manning was arrested and found guilty of 20 out of the 22 charged crimes.
According to Cnet, “The commutation calls for Manning to be freed May 17 of this year, rather than that same day in 2045. Manning is being held at a maximum security military prison for men at the Fort Leavenworth Army installation in Kansas”.
On the one side, many are thrilled at former president Barack Obama’s decision to commute her sentence. According to Time magazine, Margaret Huang an executive director of Amnesty International USA said, “Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result her own human rights have been violated by the U.S. government for years”.
Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence had many complications from the beginning. She was diagnosed with gender dysmorphia while still serving in the army but could not follow through with proper treatment. Although prisons are obligated to comply and offer treatment, military prisons, where Manning currently is held, are not. After suicide attempts and plea’s from her lawyer, the prison system finally gave her the proper treatments.
Edward Snowden, known infamously for leaking classified intel from the National Security Agency or (NSA), has been an advocate for Manning to be released. In one of his Tweets, Snowden exclaims “Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency as you exit the White House, please: free Chelsea Manning. You alone can save her life.” This clear outcry for help was directed at the conditions that Manning was placed in. She still severed her sentence in an all-male facility, with many claims of verbal, mental and physical abuse.
Other politicians have spoken out against Obama’s gesture. CNN reported, “House Speaker Paul Ryan, denouncing Manning’s “treachery,” said on Twitter that she “put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets”.
Along with the notion that Manning’s actions are inexcusable, one can take into consideration the long term affects that this decision has on how the United States should treat traitors. In a statement, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan claims that Obama is “setting a dangerous precedent”. The way this case has been handled will be showcased in future trials.
Many factors make Chelsea Manning’s case special. Whether or not commuting her sentence was right or wrong, the fact is that she faced the longest prison sentence in history compared to that of other whistleblowers. Leaking American intel to create gaps and show susceptibility to enemies should never be advocated but, the responsibility to act with justice and rightfulness relies on our government.
Two days after this announcement, Chelsea Manning Tweeted, “Thank you @BarackObama for giving me a chance.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 24th print edition.
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