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USA: Decision to commute Chelsea Manning sentence is long overdue positive step for human rights

With less than a week left in his term, President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning today. Manning had been serving a 35-year sentence in a maximum security prison after releasing information that pointed to potential crimes under international law and human rights violations by the U.S. military.

 Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said:

“Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and as a result her own human rights have been violated by the U.S. government for years. President Obama was right to commute her sentence, but it is long overdue. It is unconscionable that she languished in prison for years while those allegedly implicated by the information she revealed still haven’t been brought to justice.”

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International said:

“Instead of punishing the messenger, the U.S. government can send a strong signal to the world that it is serious about investigating the human rights violations exposed by the leaks and bringing all those suspected of criminal responsible to justice in fair trials."

Manning was not able to present evidence that she had been acting in the public interest along with other due process issues at trial, was held in pre-trial detention conditions for 11 months that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture deemed to be cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and was put in solitary confinement after a suicide attempt while serving her sentence. Additionally, Manning, who began her gender transition following her sentencing, has been denied critical and appropriate treatment related to her gender identity at various points during her incarceration.

Amnesty International has campaigned for her release for several years and is also calling upon President Obama to use his executive powers during his remaining days to pardon whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Manning’s sentence was much longer than other members of the military convicted of charges such as murder, rape and war crimes, as well as any others who were convicted of leaking classified materials to the public. Amnesty is demanding a full investigation into information Manning exposed and stronger protections for whistleblowers.

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