WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison last month. Tuesday, in an appeal addressed to President Obama, the Army private’s lawyer asked that his client be pardoned or, at the very least, have her sentence reduced to time served.

Manning has already spent three years in a military prison for leaking documents that her lawyer, David E. Coombs, says were “either unclassified or contained information that the public had a right to know.” Slate discusses the request’s contents:

The earliest Manning could be considered for parole is in 7 years. In the letter, Manning’s lawyer writes, “the length of Private Manning’s sentence is one that we would expect for someone who disclosed information in order to harm the United States or who disclosed information for monetary gain. Private Manning did neither. Instead, he disclosed information that he believed could spark a meaningful public debate on the costs of war, and specifically on how we value human life.”

Referring to Manning as a “military whistleblower,” the letter says Manning “has already paid a heavy price for his conduct.”…Manning’s pardon request refers to Chelsea Manning by her former name, Bradley Manning.

The letter reminds Obama that the documents Manning revealed simply “embarrassed” the U.S. because they exposed the “misconduct” and “unethical practices” carried out by government officials. Coombs also emphasizes the importance of the role whistle-blowers play in our country: Regardless of any embarrassment they may cause, they are essential to ensuring government accountability. Punishments as drastic as those Manning has faced and continues to endure will only discourage patriots wishing to reveal injustices in the future.

Manning also writes in the request herself, according to The Guardian:

“I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”

In other words, enough’s enough, Mr. President. Free Chelsea Manning and send the message that America stands behind whistle-blowers who try to improve our society by opening conversations that are crucial to a nation that calls itself a democracy.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi


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