During his final press conference as president, Barack Obama was asked about his commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Days before leaving office, Obama commuted the majority of Manning’s 35-year prison sentence over her stealing and leaking of government documents. Manning is now scheduled to be released from prison in May.
Reuters’ Jeff Mason asked POTUS if this sends a message that leaking docs won’t generate a harsh sentence and how he can reconcile the commuting of the sentence in light of Russian hacking and WikiLeaks’ part in it. He also wanted to know if WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange would be arrested or charged if he came to the United States.
In response, he noted that Manning needed to take responsibility for her crime and that the punishment that she received was disproportionate to what other leakers have received.
He discussed whistleblower protections and how many may have legitimate concerns about about the actions of their governments and agencies. As far as Assange, he largely brushed off both him and WikiLeaks, saying he hasn’t paid attention to Assange’s comments, hasn’t commented on WikiLeaks regarding Russian hacks and would refer everyone to the Justice Department on criminal investigations.
He further noted that “in light of all the circumstances that commuting her sentence was entirely appropriate,” once again referring to Manning.
[image via screengrab]
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