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

5 hours ago in Viral Videos

WATCH: This slow-mo capture of a lightning strike is like fire falling from the sky

15-overlay-15

This wicked weather was recorded at 7000 frames per second. Mother Nature is truly breathtaking.

3 hours ago in Sports

Ancelotti hoping for some stability at Bayern Munich

ancelotti16146567761575

After eight years coaching AC Milan, Ancelotti has only managed two seasons at each of his last three jobs: Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. After so much turbulence, Ancelotti knows stability is rarely forthcoming.

3 hours ago in Sports

Pittsburgh hosts Tampa Bay in Game 7 tonight

lightningpens16144035084188

The Lightning-Penguins series is tied at three wins each after Pittsburgh's 5-2 win Tuesday in Tampa.

3 hours ago in Sports

Thunder look to finish off defending champion Warriors tonight on KPUG

curry16146541628793

Coverage from Oracle Arena begins at 5:00 p.m. on KPUG.

3 hours ago in Sports

Ravens forfeit 1 week of workouts

ravensrookies387333207195

When the Ravens had rookies and first-year players don pads at a minicamp, it was a violation of the CBA rules.

Bellingham Traffic