After President Obama had announced his decision of reducing Chelsea Manning’s sentence for her to be released in May of this year, many opposed this move. However, he defended his posture by saying that it was “entirely appropriate.”
According to the President, he believes that Manning has served time enough to pay for her felonies. Manning was convicted in 2009, after being declared guilty of leaking thousands of diplomatic classified cables, one of the largest security breaches ever registered in the history of the United States.
In the final press conference that Obama gave at the White House this Wednesday, he said that Manning had served a “tough prison sentence,” while denying that this commutation could encourage future espionage activities in the country.
Chelsea Manning was captured while working as a U.S. intelligence analyst in Iraq. She was accused of leaking over 700,000 diplomatic cables, videos, and documents that showed the real situation in both Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Obama has stated that he thinks the conviction that was granted to Manning was disproportionated when comparing to other leakers in recent history. She received an unprecedented 35 year-long sentence for her crimes.
“It has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime … and that she had served a significant amount of time. That it makes sense to commute – and not pardon – her sentence,” President Obama said at his last press conference just two days before he leaves the White House.
Assange offered to surrender; then he backed out
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is currently in a self-imposed exile in Ecuador as he is afraid of being pursued by the U.S. for his crimes. Before the release of Manning was announced, he offered President Obama to turn himself in and accept extradition if he was given a presidential commutation.
Wikileaks announced via Twitter that “If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US extradition,” and even this Tuesday, the same account confirmed the information published last week.
However, after Obama announced the commutation, Assange’s lawyer said it was not good enough. Barry Pollack, Assange’s lawyer for affairs within the United States, said that even when he and his client welcomed the presidential announcement of Manning’s commutation, Mr. Assange did not receive what he was looking for.
According to Pollack, Assange pledged for the immediate clemency and therefore the immediate release of Manning, and as Obama stated that she would be set free in May, the deal is over.
However, President Obama said in the press conference that he didn’t pay attention to Assange’s declaration when taking the commutation decision.
The Manning case and the Snowden case are not the same, says Earnest
According to the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, people cannot compare the Manning case regarding the leaking of diplomatic cables and the Edward Snowden case concerning the NSA security breach.
Earnest explained that Manning is a citizen who overwent a military criminal case and was convicted as well as she served time in the federal prison system. On the opposite, Mr. Snowden was received by an adversary after the accusations as he is currently living in Russia. Earnest warned that this is inconceivable especially after the Russian hackings that are putting the United States democracy in danger.
Source: The Guardian