Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning is asking President Obama to grant her clemency saying she is requesting “a first chance at life.”
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison after perpetrating one of the largest leaks of classified information in U.S. history.
Manning’s lawyers argue that she has already served the longest sentence of “any other whistleblower in American history” and Obama’s decision should be influenced by the fact that Manning was held in harsh conditions and solitary confinement for long stretches of time.
“President Obama has the opportunity to right this wrong and commute her sentence to time served and we hope that he’ll give Chelsea a chance to live her life after her courageous act to raise public awareness about the impact of war on innocent civilians,” Vince Ward, one of Manning’s attorneys, said in a statement.
Manning also included a personal statement in her clemency application. It’s emotional and she talks about how her struggle with gender played a role in her decision to join the military and ultimately leak classified documents.
Manning talks about how her whole life she has struggled to find her true self and how the military made that search much harder.
Manning also addresses her two suicide attempts while under detention at a military correctional facility on Fort Leavenworth. She says the government has allowed her to receive hormone treatment but she still not allowed to grow her hair out and she’s confined in an all-male environment.
“The bottom-line is this: I need help and I am still not getting it,” she wrote. “I am living through a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss, and depression. I cannot focus. I cannot sleep. I attempted to take my own life. When the [United States Disciplinary Barracks] placed me in solitary confinement as punishment for the attempted suicide, I tried it again because the feeling of hopelessness was so immense. This has served as a reminder to me that any lack of treatment can kill me, so I must keep fighting a battle that I wish every day would just end.”
Manning says that things have changed a lot for transgender people in United States and she hopes that President Obama will give her a first chance to live in a world that may not shun her.
Manning writes that she accepts full responsibility for her actions but she feels that she has served a long-enough sentence.