President Barack Obama is seriously considering a pardon for former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, according to a new report from NBC News.
Manning was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act and other charges in July 2013 after he stole nearly a million secret documents while working as an intelligence analyst, later giving them to WikiLeaks. The files detailed operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and revealed secret diplomatic cables, some of which were highly embarrassing to the US.
A Justice Department source told NBC News that Manning was on the president’s “short list” for commutations. The 29-year-old is currently serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth.
Edward Snowden, an ex-NSA contractor who leaked his own cache of files to journalists before fleeing to Moscow, tweeted in support of Manning on Wednesday, writing: “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.”
Snowden is also seeking a presidential pardon, though some say he faces a much tougher battle.
For Manning, it’s likely his last real shot at a pardon in the final days of Obama’s presidency. Though a decision to pardon the soldier would likely not play well with some members of the military, many of whom view Manning with disdain.
Still, there is a precedent from Bill Clinton’s presidency. In 2001, Clinton pardoned former Navy intelligence officer Samuel Morison for his leaking of classified satellite imagery to Jane’s Defence Weekly in 1985, which could be seen in a similar light as Manning’s handing of documents to a publisher.
Many of those documents were later reported on by major news organisations such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and others.
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