With mere weeks left under an Obama presidency, advocates have launched what they describe as a last ditch effort to save national security whistleblower Chelsea Manningbefore Donald Trump and his team of pro-torture, anti-LGBTQ war hawks ascend to power.
With a protest outside the White House on Saturday and a vigil outside Fort Leavenworth prison, where Manning is being held, on Sunday, advocates are amplifying their call for a presidential pardon for Manning.
Specifically, supporters are asking President Barack Obama to commute Manning’s sentence to time served, pointing to the fact that Manning “has already served more time in prison than any individual in United States history who disclosed information in the public interest,” though “[h]er disclosures harmed no one.”
Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence, formally submitted a petition earlier this week asking for a reduced sentence.
“Chelsea Manning has been incarcerated since May 2010, including in unlawful, unusually harsh solitary confinement for 11 months before her trial,” reads a new White House petition.
The petition draws attention to the fact that, as Obama himself has recognized, that “prisoners who face solitary confinement are more likely to commit suicide.” And as a transgender woman in a men’s facility “facing ongoing mistreatment,” Manning is highly at risk.
In an appeal for clemency, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney Chase Strangio, a friend of Manning, published an open letter to Obama.
Noting Manning’s repeated suicide attempts and ongoing mistreatment, on top of the “pain of serving in the Army for years under both Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the ban on open transgender service, Strangio writes: “If you do not act to free her now, she may never be free to live the truth that she for so long was forced to repress.”
“This request comes at the peak of Chelsea’s escalating trauma and despair and on the eve of a new Administration’s rise to power,” the letter continues. “Her life is in your hands.”
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