News

WikiLeaks soldier seeks presidential pardon

WikiLeaks soldier seeks presidential pardon

In this Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013 file photo, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted to a security vehicle outside a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., after a hearing in his court martial. Photo: Associated Press/Patrick Semansky/File

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. soldier convicted of providing secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in the nation’s history has asked for a presidential pardon, supporters said on Wednesday.

The request for Chelsea, formerly known as Bradley, Manning, was filed by attorney David Coombs on Tuesday, according to a statement on the Pardon Private Manning website.

“I urge you to consider this matter closely and to take a positive step towards protecting whistleblowers who release information to the media for the public good by either reducing Private Manning’s sentence to time served, or by granting him a full pardon,” Coombs said in a letter to President Barack Obama via the Justice Department and to Army Secretary John McHugh carried on the website.

The application includes a supporting letter from Amnesty International.

Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said there was very little chance the Obama administration would grant a pardon, especially with its “full-bore approach” to prosecuting Manning.

“It would make them look quite schizoid if at this point a pardon was granted,” she said.

A court-martial convicted Manning, 25, in July of 20 charges, including espionage and theft, for providing more than 700,000 classified files, videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, a pro-transparency website.

GENDER DYSPHORIA

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on August 21. Although the soldier was found not guilty of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, the sentence was the longest ever handed down for turning over secrets to the media.

The day after sentencing, the soldier issued a statement that said Bradley Manning was a female who wanted to live as a woman named Chelsea.

A psychiatrist at Manning’s sentencing testified to having diagnosed the soldier as having gender dysphoria, or wanting to be the opposite sex. Manning’s statement said the soldier wanted to undergo female hormone treatment.

The White House has said that a pardon request from Manning would be considered “like any other application.”

Obama has issued far fewer pardons than the two previous presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, according to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney.

Obama has received 1,496 petitions for pardons and granted 2.6 percent of them. Bush granted 7.5 percent of 2,498 pardon petitions, and Clinton approved almost one in five of the 2,001 requests he received.

Although Manning had asked to be referred to by female pronouns, the soldier signed the pardon request “Bradley Manning” and Coombs’ letter referred to Manning as “Bradley” and used male pronouns.

Coombs said in a blog post last week that “Bradley Manning” and male pronouns would still be used in some cases. They include references to the trial, legal documents, communication with the government, the petition to the White House and the soldier’s mail.

Recent Headlines

8 hours ago in National

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia dead at 79

scalia

Scalia, appointed to the top U.S. court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, was known for his strident conservative views and theatrical flair in the courtroom.

1 day ago in Sports

The week’s best sports shots

Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning holds up the trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10. (AP Photo/Matt York)

A look back at some of the best plays and biggest moments in sports this week.

1 day ago in Sports

The weekend sports schedule

kobebryantallstar

Here's a look at this weekend's sports schedule.

1 day ago in Local

UPDATE: Missing Newfield woman’s car thought to be in Oklahoma

State Police

54-year-old Carolynn Weeks went missing earlier this week; she was last seen in Ithaca area.

1 day ago in National

Making headlines this week

A couple is seen through an American flag as they walk to a polling place for the New Hampshire primary, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A look back at some of the week's biggest headlines and the stories you may have missed.