Chelsea Manning thanks Barack Obama for ‘giving me a chance’

Whistleblower had 35-year military prison sentence commuted by US president

People hold signs calling for the release of imprisoned  whistleblower Chelsea Manning  in a gay pride parade in San Francisco, on  June 28th, 2015. Photograph:  Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

People hold signs calling for the release of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning in a gay pride parade in San Francisco, on June 28th, 2015. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

 

Chelsea Manning thanked Barack Obama on Thursday morning, two days after the outgoing US president commuted her 35-year military prison sentence .

“Thank you @BarackObama for giving me a chance,” she wrote on Twitter.

Ms Manning, a whistleblower and former military intelligence analyst in Iraq, was arrested seven years ago after she leaked 700,000 documents and diplomatic cables, the biggest leak of classified material in US history. The released documents exposed the inner-workings of US diplomacy and details about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ms Manning passed the the files to Wikileaks, who worked with media organisations, including the Guardian in Britain, to publish the findings.

She was sentenced to 35 years , a longer sentence than any other whistleblower in modern history has received. The lengthy sentence has long been criticized by her advocates and supporters who have said that Manning’s leak was a public service that exposed human rights abuses.

On Wednesday, during his last press conference as president, Mr Obama said Ms Manning’s sentence was “very disproportionate relative to what other leakers have received”.

“I feel very comfortable that justice has been served,” he said, defending himself from critics who said the commutation might encourage future leakers. “Let’s be clear: Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence.”

In an interview on Thursday, Mr Obama’s defence secretary Ash Carter said that he had not recommended the commutation. “All I’ll say about the Manning case is, I did not support the direction the president went. But he’s made his decision. That’s all I’m going to say. That was not my recommendation,” Mr Carter said on CNN’s New Day.

Ms Manning, a transgender woman, was serving her sentence at a male military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She will walk free on May 17th.

Ms Manning, a columnist for the Guardian , does not have internet access in prison, but dictates her tweets to a friend who posts them on her behalf.

Guardian service