Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. army intelligence analyst who is now serving the longest sentence of any whistleblower in U.S. history, is reportedly on President Barack Obama’s “short list” to receive a presidential commutation.
“The world is watching, and we hope that he stands on the side of justice, and that his legacy will be one of standing up for trans people’s rights, not having extinguished one of our community’s brightest lights,” said Manning’s lawyer Chase Strangio of the ACLU in a press release Wednesday.
NBC cited a source in the Justice Department Wednesday that Manning made the cut for commutations, which would shorten her sentence but not eliminate charges.
Manning is serving a 37-year prison sentence for violating the Espionage Act by leaking classified documents relating to U.S. war crimes in Iraq to WikiLeaks. She was placed in solitary confinement after attempting to commit suicide and despite a hunger strike and a petition of over 100,000 signatures to reduce her sentence, she remains behind bars.
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She responded with a tweet acknowledging the work of her supporters: “Thank you all so very much. I'm totally honored.”
Manning, who said she had gender dysphoria while in the military and will undergo a sex reassignment surgery while in military prison, has become a symbol for many LGBTQ, free speech and civil liberty groups.
“It is past time to start caring for a soldier who stood up for all of us,” wrote Manning’s counsels Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward.
Edward Snowden, another whistleblower who leaked National Security Agency documents to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, tweeted Wednesday, "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." He himself is requesting clemency but may be less likely to receive it.
Obama has granted few presidential pardons but more commutations that any president, especially for nonviolent drug offenders.