Barack Obama is reportedly “actively considering” cutting short Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence. According to a Justice Department source, the outgoing president has put the whistleblower on a “short list” for a possible commutation, with a decision expected “as soon as today.”
Manning was imprisoned back in 2010 for leaking more than 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks. The contents exposed classified information about US war crimes in both Afghanistan and Iraq, with the whistleblower being forced to serve time – including a whole year of solitary confinement – in military prison. Over the last seven years, Manning has spoken openly about her “painful” prison treatment: going on hunger strike and attempting suicide twice.
The UN has previously criticised the US government for its “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment of Manning, with many campaigning for her sentence to be commuted. Last month, a petition urging Obama to take action before Trump’s inauguration hit 100,000 signatures.
“The bottom line is this: I need help and I am still not getting it,” Manning wrote in a statement. “I am living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression. I cannot focus. I cannot sleep. I attempted to take my own life.”
If Obama agreed to commute the sentence, Manning’s conviction would still stand. However, she would be given the chance to serve a shorter prison sentence – possibly even just to time served.