President Barack Obama has commuted noted whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence, and Manning will be released on May 17 of this year.
While Manning was reportedly on Obama’s short list for commutations, many were shocked that the president—notorious for dealing harshly with whistleblowers—followed through.
Human rights defenders, government watchdogs, and LGBTQ advocates have long been pushing Obama to commute Manning’s 35-year sentence, particularly as Manning, who is transgender and is being denied appropriate healthcare in military prison, has attempted suicide twice in the past six months.
“I’m relieved and thankful that the president is doing the right thing and commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence,” said Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project representing Manning, in a statement.
“Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement—including for attempting suicide—and has been denied access to medically necessary health care,” Strangio added. “This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”
Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who has been an ardent supporter of Chelsea’s and speaks to her on the phone on a regular basis, also released a statement.
“Chelsea’s release is massive victory for free speech, human rights, and democracy,” Greer said. “As someone who has become friends with Chelsea over the last year, but has never had a chance to see her face or give her a hug, I’m overjoyed that she will be able to share her beautiful self with the world. She has so much to offer, and her freedom will be a testament to the power of grassroots organizing. I’m so excited for the world to get to know her as the compassionate, intelligent, and kind person who she is.”
Progressive commentators, journalists, rights advocates, and others celebrated the news on Twitter:
Seriously: Thanks, Obama (and more importantly, everyone who created the pressure to make Obama do this) ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/ONLysRSRkT
— Jon Schwarz (@tinyrevolution) January 17, 2017
Chelsea Manning is probably the most empathetic person I’ve ever met. So thrilled!! Can’t wait to see what she does. My clemency letter: pic.twitter.com/j9CQhRmxhm
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 17, 2017
President Obama commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence might be the best/most progressive thing he’s done. I’m surprised, ecstatic & grateful.
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) January 17, 2017
Chelsea Manning free in 3 months.
— Eileen Myles (@EileenMyles) January 17, 2017