Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday filed for a presidential pardon [materials] of her 35-year sentence. In the cover letter of the pardon request, Manning's lawyer argued that his client disclosed sensitive information neither to harm the US nor for monetary gain. The lawyer further claimed that most of the released information was unclassified. Manning reasoned that she released the classified information "out of concern for my country and the world that we live in." She stressed that her decision was based on moral grounds and appealed to her duty to others. Along with the cover letter and application for pardon, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] filed a supporting statement in which it addressed the inhumane treatment towards Manning while in confinement and the fact that the leaked documents contained human rights violations committed by US troops abroad. AI also reminded President Barack Obama [official website] that under "international human rights law, the 'essential aim' of a penitentiary system should be the 'reformation and social rehabilitation' of prisoners, rather than retribution." The pardon request may not be addressed for years, given that the White House announced [Reuters report] that the application will be treated as any other.
In August Manning, known previously as Bradley, was sentenced to 35 years [JURIST report] in prison for her disclosure of classified information to the anti-secrecy organization Wikileaks [advocacy website]. The sentence came a month after she was found guilty [JURIST report] of violating the Espionage Act [18 USC § 794 et seq.] but was acquitted of the more serious charge of "aiding the enemy." In April the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces rejected a request by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to gain access to court documents from Manning's case. That month the judge raised the burden of proof [JURIST report] in order to require the government to prove that Manning "knowingly" aided al Qaeda. In February Manning pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to 10 of the 22 charges against her for providing classified materials to Wikileaks. Also in February the judge dismissed a motion [JURIST report] that argued for Manning's release based on a lack of a speedy trial.