Obama Commutes Sentence of WikiLeaker Chelsea Manning

President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of WikiLeaker Chelsea Manning Tuesday.

VICTORY: Obama commutes Chelsea Manning sentence from 35 years to 7. Release date now May 17. Background: https://t.co/HndsbVbRer

WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 17, 2017

That was the Tweet from the WikiLeaks account after the announcement of the commutation of her 35-year sentence essentially to time served. She will be released May 17.

Manning leaked/stole hundreds of thousands of Defense Department and national security documents to WikiLeaks, helping to put that site on the map, as CNN's Barbara Starr pointed out Jan. 17.

Manning pleaded guilty, according to her White House commutation, to: "One specification of wrongful and wanton publication to the internet intelligence belonging to the United States; five specifications of stealing, purloining or knowingly converting U.S. government records; six specifications of willful communication of information relating to the national defense; one specification of willful communication of information in unlawful possession; one specification of willful communication of information relating to the national defense by exceeding authorized access to a U.S. government computer; one specification of willful communication of information relating to the national defense obtained by accessing a U.S. government computer; five specifications of failure to obey order or regulation."

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Hill Republicans and Democrats were concerned that the move would send a signal that individuals could leak government documents with lesser a penalty, though others were arguing that the 35-year sentence was a particularly tough one to begin with.

According to Fight for the Future campaign director and Manning friend Evan Greer, more than 100,000 people signed a Whitehouse.gov petition, which meets the threshold for a response from the President.

Among those pardoned by President Obama Tuesday was General James Cartwright, who had pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators related to his leak of information to the media.

The Obama Administration had been one of the most active in going after leakers, so the moves took some in the media and on Capitol Hill by surprise.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.