A formal White House petition calling for reducing the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier serving a 37-year prison sentence for leaking classified documents relating to U.S. war crimes in Iraq, surpassed 100,000 signatures which means the U.S. administration has to respond to the demand.
“We did it! Thank you so much for your love and support,” Manning said in a post on her official Twitter account. The petition was created on Nov. 14 and now forces the White House to offer a response within 60 days.
— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) December 11, 2016
The petition asks President Barack Obama to commute Manning’s sentence to time served after being in prison for more than six years. She has been repeatedly kept in solitary confinement which led her to attempt suicide twice.
“Chelsea has already served more time in prison than any individual in United States history who disclosed information in the public interest. Her disclosures harmed no one,” the petition said.
“President Obama, as you and the medical community have recognized, prisoners who face solitary confinement are more likely to commit suicide.”
Manning, a transgender woman, was the whistleblower who leaked to WikiLeaks secret military and diplomatic documents while working as a U.S. intelligence analyst in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in 2010.
The online petition is part of recent efforts by Manning and her supporters as well as rights groups to change her sentence following the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential elections last month.
Manning’s lawyers formally petitioned Obama to commute her sentence in November just a few days before it was set up online, the New York Times had reported.
Manning herself wrote a letter to President Obama as part of the petition in which she assumed responsibility for her actions but said her life was in turmoil at the time of the leaks. She was confronting gender dysphoria at the time while deployed to Iraq.
She also went on to describe her treatment in prison and her multiple suicide attempts, saying: “I am not asking for a pardon of my conviction.”
“The sole relief I am asking for is to be released from military prison after serving six years of confinement as a person who did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members,” the statement said.
Also just last week the American Civil Liberties Union and some LGBTQ rights groups lobbied Obama to change the sentence to time served.
“The sole relief that Ms. Manning is seeking is to be released from military prison after serving over six years of confinement — longer than any whistleblower in the history of our country,” the ACLU said in the letter which was co-signed by more than a dozen LGBTQ rights groups.
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