On Tuesday, President Barack Obama commuted Army analyst Chelsea Manning's sentence seven years into her 35-year prison term. Manning, who served as an Army private, was imprisoned for leaking thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. Manning was facing the longest prison sentence ever issued for a leak, and as a transgender woman serving time in a male military prison, her supporters argued that she was at risk. Now that Obama has pardoned her, though, how quickly will that take effect? When will Chelsea Manning be released from prison?
According to The New York Times, Manning will be free soon: instead of leaving prison in 2045, as she was originally scheduled to, she'll be released on May 17, 2017. "Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing," Joshua Earnest, the White House press secretary, told The New York Times on Friday.
According to Politico, Obama also pardoned Gen. James Cartwright, who was set to be sentenced at the end of the month for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a leak case. He recently pled guilty and was facing up to five years in prison for the crime.
Manning was only one of the 209 individuals Obama granted commutations to on Tuesday, according to Forbes. Over the course of his presidency, Obama has now granted a record-breaking 1,385 commutations and 212 pardons.
The reaction to Manning's commutation has been mixed. Supporters, including fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden, have celebrated the news, with Snowden writing on Twitter: "To all who campaigned for clemency on Manning's behalf these last hard years, thank you. You made this happen."
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange released a statement through Wikileaks' Twitter account, as well, saying, "Thank you to everyone who campaigned for Chelsea Manning's clemency. Your courage & determination made the impossible possible."
Others, however, were less impressed. "This is just outrageous. Chelsea Manning's treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation's most sensitive secrets," Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. "President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won't be held accountable for their crimes."
President-elect Donald Trump has yet to weigh in on Obama's pardons, but Ryan's reaction hints that a Trump Administration would be less inclined to issue such commutations. It looks like Manning may have been pardoned just in the nick of time.