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With Chelsea Manning's Commuted Sentence, Will Assange Keep His Word?

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

AP reported Tuesday afternoon that President Barack Obama officially commuted the 35-year sentence of Chelsea Manning. Manning (born Bradley Manning) was charged and convicted in 2013 under the Espionage Act for leaking classified military documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

President Obama announced that Manning would be freed on May 17, 2017.

Manning initially contacted WikiLeaks in November 2009 when the website published 570,000 pager messages on the September 11, 2001 attacks. In February 2010, she passed along what are now known as the Iraq and Afghanistan logs, along with the now infamous "Collateral murder" video. She also downloaded and sent hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.

U.S. officials have expressed interest in WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition for releasing these files to the public. However, Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012. He also faces extradition to Sweden for sexual assault allegations. Assange has maintained that the Swedish government would just hand him over to the United States.

Yet, on January 12, WikiLeaks posted a tweet claiming that if Obama granted Manning clemency, Assange would agree to U.S. extradition "despite clear unconstitutionality of DOJ case."

So is it going to happen?

Well, that remains to be seen. While WikiLeaks is declaring victory on Twitter, there is no confirmation on whether or not Assange will surrender himself for extradition after 5 years in the Ecuadorian Embassy. However, that seems to be the most popular question from Twitter users after WikiLeaks tweeted about Manning's clemency.

Update 1/17/17 6:14 PM: On Twitter, WikiLeaks says Julian Assange's lawyer says he intends to stand by everything he has said.

Manning is serving her 35-year sentence in solitary confinement. She has made two suicide attempts.

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