An attorney for Chelsea ManningChelsea Elizabeth Manning Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19 Julian Assange stripped of Ecuadorian citizenship Biden DOJ to continue to seek Assange extradition MORE expressed his gratitude and excitement following the news that President Obama had commuted the sentence of the former Army soldier.
During an interview with MSNBC host Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday evening, attorney Chase Strangio said Obama realized that "if he didn't act now, Chelsea's life was very much in jeopardy."
"President Obama acted on the side of justice here," he said.
Strangio told Van Susteren that the White House had not provided Manning's attorneys with an explicit reason for the decision to commute her 35-year sentence. But he surmised that it was a partly due to Manning's safety and the length of her original sentence.
"I think it’s partly the risk to her life and the reality that especially in retrospect, but even at the time that the 35-year sentence was particularly egregious," he said. "And she has served nearly seven years already longer than anyone in United States history for leaking documents to the press and public interest."
"We’ll never know the reasons for Obama’s actions but I think it was probably a combination of those things. And I truly do believe this has saved her life."
Manning was convicted in 2013 for leaking thousands of classified documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — information that was later disclosed by WikiLeaks. She was originally set to be released be released in 2045, a sentence that was the longest ever imposed for a leak conviction.
Manning is now set to be released on May 17, 2017.
Strangio said he has not yet had a chance to speak with Manning following Obama's announcement of her commutation.
He said it was "somewhat unusual" that her attorneys had not spoken with her following the announcement, but said he was trying to get in touch with her. He said he had spoken with her Tuesday afternoon shortly before the announcement.
"I am just so relieved and look ver much forward to speaking with her so that I can share this news with her," Strangio said.