The cases of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange have captivated global audiences for several years now. All three individuals are accused of espionage.
While Assange and Snowden escaped prosecution in the U.S. and other countries, Manning was found guilty of passing state secrets to Assange’s Wikileaks organization and sentenced to 35 years in prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. However, Obama could set Manning free soon by granting her a pardon.
This act of clemency could be reviewed favorably and renew discussions on how to pardon or at least deal with Assange and Snowden better.
The Pardon of Chelsea Manning
Manning was a private in the Army when she passed state secrets to Wikileaks. She worked for the intelligence agency and had access to communications about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The secrets she revealed cost the U.S. in the international community and also jeopardized its military operations overseas.
Unlike Snowden, who was granted residency in Russia, and Assange, who took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Manning was caught, tried, and sentenced to prison in Leavenworth. During her imprisonment, she has tried to commit suicide numerous times. She has also repeatedly asked Barack Obama for mercy.
While many in the U.S. and abroad view Manning as a traitor, others view her as a hero on the same level as Assange who famously exposed the DNC emails that allegedly cost Clinton the election.
They argue that Manning did nothing worse than Assange or even Snowden and should be released especially since the U.S. war campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have been largely successful. In one of his last executive moves as president, Obama is said to be considering a pardon for Manning.
If he does, it could be one of the most, if not the most, controversial moves of his presidency. It also could invite new discussion about how to deal with Snowden and Assange.
Dealing with Assange and Snowden
Assange has gone on record as saying that he will agree to extradition to the U.S. if Manning is set free. While Snowden arguably has first picks on Assange on the charges of rape, the U.S. also wants to interrogate him about the DNC email hacks.
Depending on the outcome of the questioning, Assange could be imprisoned in Leavenworth or in another American federal prison. While Assange has agreed to extradition to the U.S., Snowden wants a total pardon like the one Obama may grant to Manning.
He says he wants to come home without being charged, so that he can resume his life. It is unlikely that the U.S. will agree to those terms since he too is accused of espionage and sharing state secrets with American enemies. The U.S. has also canceled his passport, making any return home impossible.
Russia has extended his residency visa, making it likely that Snowden will remain a guest in the country at Putin’s pleasure. The new Trump administration shows no signs of wanting to grant Snowden clemency. It remains to be seen how Trump and his intelligence community will deal with Assange if or when he is extradited to the U.S. to face interrogation and possibly a trial.
Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning remain three of the most controversial people in the American media and throughout the world. Manning may be given a reprieve by outgoing Obama, effectively ending her prison term at Leavenworth and giving her a new leash on life.
The fates of Snowden and Assange remain to be determined by the incoming Trump administration. Both men may languish in their current fates or face questioning and trials in the U.S. at some point.
Image source: here