President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence officer, who is serving 35 years for giving classified information to WikiLeaks, the White House announced Tuesday.
The decision, made in the last days of Obama’s presidency, means that Manning can be freed May 17, seven years into a prison term that has been marked by two suicide attempts and a hunger strike aimed at obtaining sex reassignment surgery.
“I think justice was finally done today,” Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, told NBC News. “Thirty-five years was not an appropriate sentence. Seven years is still too long, but at least Chelsea now will be able to return to her life, return to her family and to the people who love her.”
In addition to shaving 28 years off Manning’s sentence, Obama granted 208 other commutations and 64 pardons — including one for retired Gen. James Cartwright, who was accused of lying to the FBI during another leak investigation.
The Manning commutation, which will undoubtedly be controversial, was not a complete surprise. And at a briefing last week, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Manning’s actions were not as “dangerous” as those of fugitive leaker Edward Snowden.