President Barack Obama announced his plan to free Chelsea Manning (who changed his name from Bradley) after leaking classified military documents to Wikileaks and being sentenced to 35 years in prison for his crimes.
Once in prison, Manning went on a hunger strike to demand sex change surgery in prison, which was granted by officials at the cost of American taxpayers.
Obama included Manning on a list of prisoner commutations announced late Tuesday afternoon, allowing him to be set free on May 17, 2017.
During the White House press briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest noted the “stark” differences between Manning and Edward Snowden, who also leaked highly classified documents.
“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” he said during the White House press briefing.
Earnest added that Snowden “fled into the arms of an adversary,” and criticized him for seeking refuge from Russia, calling it “a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”
It does not appear that Obama has plans to pardon Snowden.
Obama also commuted the sentences of 209 more criminals and pardoned 64 — most of them guilty of drug crimes. He has commuted the sentences of 1,385 criminals and granted a total of 212 pardons.