On Tuesday, President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the transgender former Army solider who was serving a 35-year-sentence for leaking about 700,000 classified and unclassified documents. Manning will be freed on May 17, 2017 after serving seven years in a male prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, despite identifying as a female.
Obama also shortened the sentences of 209 inmates as well as granted pardons to 64 other individuals including General James Cartwright.
Since his sentencing, Manning has announced that he is a transgendered individual who would be transitioning into a woman and wants to be referred to as Chelsea, not the former Bradley. Manning has also attempted to commit suicide twice while imprisoned. The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of having to provide the sex reassignment surgery he has pushed to obtain while incarcerated.
Last Thursday,Wikileaks founder Julian Assange wrote on Twitter that he agreed to be extradited to the United States if President Barack Obama released Manning before he leaves office. Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran embassy in London in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces sexual assault allegations. Assange says that he is afraid that if he returns to Sweden, the Swedish government would extradite him back to the U.S..
Manning has claimed that no other whistleblower in American history has been sentenced as harshly as she has. She complained that the prosecution aimed to make an example of her and that her sentence should be reduced because she says that the information she leaked did not put any American lives in danger.