By Olivier Knox
President Obama commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, setting up the army intelligence analyst turned high-profile leaker to be freed on May 17, the White House announced Tuesday.
Manning was on a list of 209 commutations and 64 pardons, which may not be Obama’s final act of clemency before he leaves office at midday on Jan. 20. Edward Snowden’s name was not on the list.
Manning was convicted after leaking U.S. military incident logs and diplomatic cables, among other secret government documents, in 2010.
In his final scheduled briefing for reporters, White House press secretary Josh Earnest described Manning and Snowden in starkly different terms.
“Chelsea Manning, as a member of the United States armed forces, went through a legal proceeding administered by the United States military under the laws that govern the conduct of members of the United States military, and there was a hearing and a conviction and a sentence,” Earnest said. “It all went through that regular process. And that’s the way we determine guilt or innocence in this country, particularly with regard to the conduct of men and women in our armed forces. And that’s the way that our system works.”
But Snowden “should return to the United States and face the serious crimes that with which he’s been charged,” Earnest said. “He will of course be afforded the kind of due process that’s available to every American citizen who’s going through the criminal justice process. But the crimes that he’s accused of committing are serious. And we believe that he should return to the United States and face them rather than seeking refuge in the arms of an adversary of the United States that has their own strategic interests in disseminating information in a harmful way.”
The Obama administration has accused the Russian government of using WikiLeaks to influence the 2016 election. The organization published emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Manning’s commutation reads:
Chelsea Elizabeth Manning – Oklahoma City, OK
Offense: One specification of wrongful and wanton publication to the internet intelligence belonging to the United States; five specifications of stealing, purloining or knowingly converting U.S. government records; six specifications of willful communication of information relating to the national defense; one specification of willful communication of information in unlawful possession; one specification of willful communication of information relating to the national defense by exceeding authorized access to a U.S. government computer; one specification of willful communication of information relating to the national defense obtained by accessing a U.S. government computer; five specifications of failure to obey order or regulation; U.S. Army Court Martial
Sentence: 35 years’ imprisonment (August 21, 2013)
Wikileaks claimed "victory" on Tuesday after the White House announced US President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year term for leaking classified US documents.
"VICTORY: Obama commutes Chelsea Manning sentence from 35 years to 7. Release date now May 17," WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter.
Manning was convicted in August 2013 of espionage and other offenses for handing sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the organisation.
Earlier this month WikiLeaks said its founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited from London to the US if Obama granted clemency to Manning.
White House concedes it won't close Guantanamo after all
By JOSH LEDERMAN and BEN FOX Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House said Tuesday that the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba will still be open when President Barack Obama leaves office, conceding that a core campaign promise will go unfulfilled.
Administration officials had long insisted that the president was continuing to work toward closing the facility even when it became obvious that it would no longer be possible for practical reasons before President-elect Donald Trump takes office Friday.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the administration determined it wouldn't happen when Trump was elected and selected the site to hold Snowden, certain members of Congress and other high security risk soon to be prisoners.
Trump said during the campaign that he not only wants to keep Guantanamo open but "load it up with some bad dudes." Earlier this month, he said there should be no further releases of men he called "extremely dangerous people."
The U.S. began using its military base on southeast Cuba's isolated, rocky coast to hold prisoners captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack and at the start of the war in Afghanistan. At its peak, the facility held nearly 680 detainees. It was down to 242 when Obama took office in 2009, pledging to close what had become a source of international criticism over the treatment of detainees and the notion of holding people indefinitely, most without charge.
Cost of Guantanamo
WASHINGTON, May 3 (Reuters) - It's been dubbed the most expensive prison on Earth and President Barack Obama cited the cost this week as one of many reasons to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, which burns through some $900,000 per prisoner annually.