Fox News – DEVELOPING: President Obama commuted the vast majority of former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified documents, the White House announced Tuesday.
Manning is more than six years into a 35-year sentence for leaking classified government and military documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Her sentence is now set to expire May 17.
Manning was known as Bradley Manning at the time of her 2010 arrest, but revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identifies as a woman. She attempted suicide twice last year.
Manning accepted responsibility for leaking the material to WikiLeaks, and has said she was confronting gender dysphoria at the time of the leaks while deployed in Iraq.
The White House said that Manning is one of 209 inmates whose sentences Obama is shortening. Obama is also pardoning 64 people, including retired Gen. James Cartwright, who was charged with making false statements during a probe into disclosure of classified information. Most of the other people receiving commutations were serving sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
The decision is expected to have a ripple effect on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the organization. Two former intelligence officers have told Fox News that a CIA WikiLeaks taskforce was set up to assess damage from the Manning leaks.
” I think it would strengthen his (Assange’s) position considerably,” Tom Dupree, former Deputy Attorney General, told Fox News in a previous interview. “If the United States government said we are going to pardon Manning for those offenses, I think it makes it that much tougher to then say we’re going to drop the hammer on the person that published that information.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Fox News that while pardons are a Constitutional tool in the president’s repertoire, Obama is “undermining our ability on criminal justice reform by granting clemency at an alarming rate.”
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