US President Barack Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning

The transgender soldier was convicted of six counts of espionage

US President Barack Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning

File photo

Outgoing US President Barack Obama has commuted the 35-year sentence of Chelsea Manning, the soldier jailed for leaking information to Wikileaks.

It is expected that the former Army intelligence analyst who leaked thousands of documents to Wikileaks, will now be out in May.

She is one of 209 inmates whose sentences have been shortened by the outgoing president.

They have not been pardoned, and as a result their conviction and criminal records still stand.

Manning, who was born a male and arrested in 2010 as Bradley Manning, was convicted of espionage in 2013.

She was found guilty of providing more than 700,000 documents, diplomatic cables, videos and battlefield accounts to the whistleblowing website, in what is believed to be the largest breach of classified materials in US history.

Manning, is being held at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military prison.

During her trial, she accepted responsibility for leaking the material, but said she was confronting gender dysphoria at the time of the leaks while on operation in Iraq.

The 29-year-old went on hunger strike while in jail over her demand to receive gender transition surgery.

When approval for the surgery was granted in September, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the army private would become the first transgender inmate to receive the treatment in prison.

Among the files Manning leaked in 2010 was a video of a US Apache helicopter firing on suspected Iraqi insurgents in 2007, an attack that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters journalists.

In May 2016, Manning's lawyers appealed against her conviction, saying "no whistleblower in American history has been sentenced this harshly".

Most of the others whose sentences are being reduced have been serving jail time for nonviolent drug offences.

Mr Obama has also pardoned 64 other people, including retired General James Cartwright, who was charged with making false statements during a probe into the disclosure of classified information.

Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said: "Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result her own human rights have been violated by the US government for years.

"President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue. It is unconscionable that she languished in prison for years while those allegedly implicated by the information she revealed still haven't been brought to justice."

While Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, added: "Instead of punishing the messenger, the US government can send a strong signal to the world that it is serious about investigating the human rights violations exposed by the leaks and bringing all those suspected of criminal responsible to justice in fair trials."

Fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden also tweeted his thanks to President Obama: