Welsh-Irish family of Chelsea Manning 'overjoyed' after Obama commutes whistleblower's sentence

Julian Assange is 'standing by' a pledge to agree to US extradition in return for clemency for Ms Manning

The Welsh-Irish family of whistleblower Chelsea Manning say they are 'overjoyed' that she will be freed in May.

Last night, President Obama commuted the 35-year sentence of the former US Army intelligence analyst, who leaked thousands of documents to WikiLeaks.

She had not been due for release until 2045, and will have served seven years when she is released later this year.

The news of the shortened sentence was warmly welcomed by many who had campaigned for her release, including fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In a statement, Welsh-Irish relatives of Ms Manning - who spent several years in Wales - said: "We are all overjoyed that Chelsea will soon be free. Chelsea exposed wrongdoing and was punished for being a whistleblower.

"We regret that it has taken so long for President Obama to commute the sentence and are outraged that Chelsea has been forced to endure such abusive treatment in prison. We agree with the UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez that some of this abuse amounted to torture."

Manning was born in Oklahoma in 2013, but The Irish Times noted in 2013 that her family antecedents are from both Wales and Ireland.

Meanwhile, there have been calls for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to fulfill a pledge to agree to US extradition following Obama's announcement last night.

In a tweet last week, the group said: "If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (Department of Justice) case."

Overnight, the group quoted Mr Assange's lawyer as saying the WikiLeaks head is 'standing by' what he has said.

Mr Assange has sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 19 June, 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over a rape allegation (which he denies).

If he leaves the embassy, the organisation fears Mr Assange could also be extradited to the US to be questioned over the activities of WikiLeaks and face espionage charges. There has been no public US extradition request against Mr Assange.

Mr Assange welcomed the news of Ms Manning's imminent release, saying: "Thank you to everyone who campaigned for Chelsea Manning's clemency. Your courage & determination made the impossible possible."

While many have praised the decision to commute Ms Manning's sentence, others have criticised the outgoing president's decision, with the Republican speaker Paul Ryan describing it as 'outrageous':

Additional reporting by IRN