Just three days before leaving office, President Barack Obama has commuted the majority of Chelsea Manning's 35-year prison sentence.
Manning is the Army private sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in prison for the 2010 leak of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group, WikiLeaks. Manning is now to be released May 17, the New York Times reported. Manning was originally scheduled for release in 2045.
Manning served as a low-level intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009, a post that allowed then-Bradley Manning to access U.S. classified computer networks. After leaking what White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday characterized as "damaging to national security," Manning was convicted and sentenced to prison in 2013 and is currently serving out the sentence at a male military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
“I take full and complete responsibility for my decision to disclose these materials to the public,” Manning wrote in a commutation application, according to the Times. “I have never made any excuses for what I did. I pleaded guilty without the protection of a plea agreement because I believed the military justice system would understand my motivation for the disclosure and sentence me fairly. I was wrong.”
Shortly after being sentenced to 35 years in prison, Bradley Manning announced that he is transgender and was changing his name and identity to Chelsea Manning, a move that put pressure on the military to allow Manning to undergo transition surgery and treatment at taxpayers' expense.
The White House also announced Tuesday another 64 pardons and 209 separate prison commutations, including ex-Marine Corps James Cartwright, who pleaded guilty last year to misleading the FBI about discussions he had with journalists about the Iran nuclear deal.
Shortly after Tuesday's announcement, WikiLeaks, the group that benefited from Manning's crime, declared "victory" in a tweet.
VICTORY: Obama commutes Chelsea Manning sentence from 35 years to 7. Release date now May 17. Background: https://t.co/HndsbVbRer— WikiLeaks (@WikiLeaks) 1484689885.0
The decision to commute Manning's sentence comes amid an already contested presidential transition period in which lawmakers grapple with what to do about Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. election, something a number of intelligence officials and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have said WikiLeaks helped the Kremlin carry out.