Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning is seeking a presidential pardon for leaking classified information, according to documents released Wednesday. In the pardon request, Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison, writes that she sent WikiLeaks classified material “out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.”
David Coombs, lawyer for Manning (who is identified in court documents as Bradley Manning) sent the Petition for Pardon/Commutation of Sentence to President Obama through the U.S. Justice Department and to Army Secretary John M. McHugh on Tuesday.
“Private Manning has already paid a heavy price for [her] conduct,” Coombs writes. “I urge you to consider this matter closely and to take a positive step toward protecting whistle-blowers who release information to the media for the public good by either reducing Private Manning’s sentence to time served, or by granting [her] a full pardon.”
“I understand that my actions violated the law,” Manning said. “I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people.”
Manning goes into detail explaining the circumstances that led her to release the information, writing that the United States, “consciously elected to devalue human life in both Iraq and Afghanistan” and comparing many of America’s post-9/11 foreign policy decisions to McCarthyism and the Japanese American internment camps. “When we engaged those that we perceived were the Enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information to avoid any public accountability.”
“If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in free society,” Manning said. “I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly ‘conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all [women and men] are created equal.’”