Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, two of the most famous American whistle blowers during Barack Obama’s presidency, are requesting pardons or commutations from President Barack Obama before he leaves office in January. The two are joined by retired Marine Corps Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, and former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who are also requesting pardons for themselves.
Experts at Politico state that it is highly unlikely that any of the sentences will be commuted. None of the requests meet the requirements for clemency under the Justice Department and also do not fall under Obama’s plan to reduce the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders.
Mark Osler, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis states that he believes that all applicants will be denied pardons. He told Politico:
“I think he’s going to announce a lot of names in the next few weeks. I don’t think any of them will be these big-name figures, this administration does have an aversion to high-profile cases generally.”
While it is highly unlikely that clemency will be granted to any of the individuals seeking a pardon, it is believed that, if she were eligible, Chelsea Manning would be the most likely to be commuted. Manning was convicted of leaking thousands of classified and unclassified documents to Wikileaks, landing her a 35-year prison sentence.
The 35-year prison term is the longest ever given to a whistle blower. Manning also claims that she was suffering from mental health issues related to her gender dysphoria at the time she leaked the info. However, Manning is still in the process of appealing her case, which, according to Politico, makes her ineligible for a pardon.
President Barack Obama has publicly stated that he has no plans to pardon Snowden. In November he told reporters:
“I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves.”
Cartwright is also unlikely to be pardoned. He pleaded guilty to lying to officials who were investigating leaks about U.S. plans against Iran’s nuclear program. He will be sentenced just three days before Obama leaves office.
Kirakou also pleaded guilty to his crime of revealing secret information about another CIA officer in 2012. He reportedly completed a two and half year prison sentence in 2015.