As President Obama’s time in office is coming to an end, the public is pleading for the pardon of Chelsea Manning, the 29 year old whistle-blower.
Among those fighting for Manning is Edward Snowden, the exiled 33 year old former NSA contractor currently living Russia. Snowden tweeted to President Obama asking for Manning’s pardon.
Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency as you exit the White House, please: free Chelsea Manning. You alone can save her life.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 11, 2017
The former Army Intelligence analyst was branded a traitor when she released 700,000 classified files to wikileaks in 2010. Manning plead guilty and delivered an apology to the nation.
“I’m sorry,” Manning said. “I’m sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that they hurt the United States. I understand that I must pay the price for my decisions and actions,” Manning added.
The apology fell on deaf ears, and Manning was handed a 35 year sentence, ten times longer than recent whistle-blowers. David Coombs, Manning’s defense lawyer, was appalled with the sentence.
“After this case, I had to tell Chelsea — ‘I’ve represented murderers. I’ve represented rapists. I’ve represented child molesters. And none of them received 35 years.'”
Many believe the harsh sentence was sent as a message for future whistle-blowers, and as a scapegoat for Snowden, who’s disclosures were hitting the public around the time of Manning’s trial.
President Obama’s decision could come as soon as today, which may save Manning’s life. Manning has tried to commit suicide twice this year and has gone on a hunger strike for gender reassignment surgery. Manning’s aunt, Deborah Manning, believes this could be the chance they have waited for. “I have more hope right now than I have the entire time since she was sentenced,” Deborah said. President Obama leaves office on January 20th.