Chelsea Manning, the army soldier who leaked state secrets in 2010 and has been imprisoned longer than any other official leaker in US history, has called on President Obama to show her clemency in the final days of his presidency, saying that this amounts to her last chance for freedom “for a very long time”.
With nine days left for the Obama presidency, Manning is reportedly on Obama’s “shortlist” for a commutation of her sentence, according to NBC News.
Time is running out for Manning, who has already been incarcerated for six years for leaking hundreds of thousands of war logs, embassy cables and videos that cast light on the nature of modern warfare. It is presumed that the incoming president, Donald Trump, would be unlikely to look favorably on her case and that under him her 35-year sentence would be left to run its course.
Manning told the Guardian that the petition she made to Obama in November was “the last real chance to make my case to go home for a very long time”. She said that the appeal she filed against her sentence last May would take many years to work its way through the courts.
And in an emotional plea for mercy from Obama, she added: “I have spent almost all of my adult life either homeless, in the military or in prison. I haven’t had the chance to live my life yet.”
Until he steps down on 20 January, Obama has presidential power under the US constitution either to fully pardon individuals who have been convicted of crimes, or to commute their sentences, and many others are hoping they will be the beneficiaries of that power. Manning’s appeal lawyer, Nancy Hollander, said it was time for the president to act before it was too late by reducing the sentence to the six years she has already served.