President Barack Obama is getting Chelsea Manning sprung from a military prison about 30 years early.
The outgoing US president today commuted the remaining prison sentence of Manning, the transgender army intelligence analyst who is serving a 35-year sentence for passing data to WikiLeaks.
Manning is now set to be freed on 17 May of this year, according to The New York Times.
The jailed transgender US soldier has tweeted to Obama on 14 November: ‘I ask @POTUS for #timeserved: A “first chance” to live out of prison as the woman.’
White House spokesman Joshua Earnest told reporters there is a ‘pretty stark difference’ between Manning’s case for mercy and that of former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden who is living as a fugitive in Russia.
Snowden disclosed the archives of top secret surveillance files.
‘Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,’ Earnest said.
‘Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.’
Manning has twice attempted suicide since July. The second attempt took place last October while Manning was in solitary confinement as punishment for the first suicide attempt.
A petition seeking Manning’s early release had been launched and stated: ‘Chelsea is a woman in a men’s facility facing ongoing mistreatment. She has attempted suicide and has been punished with additional time in solitary confinement for her desperation. Her life is at risk and you can save her.’
It also stated: ‘Chelsea has already served more time in prison than any individual in United States history who disclosed information in the public interest. Her disclosures harmed no one.’
Manning ended a hunger strike in September after the US Army agreed to provide her with gender confirming surgery.
Last September, Manning was ordered to cut her hair and later wrote that this left her feeling ‘humiliated, hurt and rejected.’