Concerned that Chelsea Manning, who’s served seven years of a 35-year prison sentence for transmitting more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, will not fare well under a Trump presidency, Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, is advocating for President Obama to commute the remainder of Manning’s 35-year sentence before he leaves office. Greer tells SC Media that Manning is one of the strongest and most optimistic people she has ever met but that the transgender whistleblower, deprived of some of the treatment she needs for gender dysphoria, has had a rough time in the all-male prison that has been her home for the last seven years.
SC: Why do you believe President Obama should give Chelsea Manning a break?
Greer: Even the intel community agrees that no harm came from Chelsea’s actions. She’s asking for a commutation not a pardon. She was [punished] more harshly than other whistleblowers.
SC: Why do think she received such a stiff penalty?
Greer: I think they wanted to make an example of her – the Obama administration had an abysmal record of prosecuting whistleblowers.
SC: What has the public’s reaction been to Manning’s actions and efforts to get her released early?
Greer: The people who support Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden couldn’t be put in a bucket [politically and demographically]. They believe in free speech and equal rights.
SC: Some reports have said that Manning is on the president’s shortlist for consideration, what’s the likelihood that Obama will commute her sentence?
Greer: It’s so difficult to know where Obama is on anything. I sincerely hope Obama listens to his base and voices across the spectrum. He has the moral imperative to do it. His administration denied her healthcare. If he doesn’t, it will tarnish his reputation.
SC: And if he doesn’t?
Greer: We can only assume it will get worse under Trump.
SC: Do you think that the controversial role WikiLeaks assumed during the presidential election might color the public’s view of Chelsea Manning?
Greer: Chelsea is her own person, she has made it very clear she doesn’t have any affiliation with WikiLeaks and its releasing information. It’s not terribly related in the way people see Chelsea.