President Barack Obama commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, allowing the Army intelligence officer who leaked scores of classified documents to go free nearly three decades early.
Manning, who will leave prison in May, was one of 209 inmates whose sentences Obama was shortening, a list that includes Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez-Rivera. Obama also pardoned 64 people, including retired Gen. James Cartwright, who was charged with making false statements during a probe into disclosure of classified information.
"These 273 individuals learned that our nation is a forgiving nation," said White House counsel Neil Eggleston, "where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward."
The actions are permanent, and can't be undone by President-elect Donald Trump. White House officials said Obama would grant clemency to more individuals on Thursday — his final day in office — but that batch was not expected to include prominent individuals like Manning.
A former Army intelligence analyst, Manning has been serving a 35-year sentence for leaking more than 700,000 classified government and military documents to WikiLeaks, along with some battlefield video. She was convicted in military court in 2013 of six violations of the Espionage Act and 14 other offenses and has spent more than six years behind bars. She asked Obama last November to commute her sentence to time served.