Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning

On 18 Jan 17, President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who was otherwise scheduled to serve 35 years, till 2045. US Private Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning) was convicted in 2010, for leaking documents to WikiLeaks, in what is described as one of the largest security breaches in US history. 

On 18 Jan 17, President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who was otherwise scheduled to serve 35 years, till 2045. US Private Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning) was convicted in 2010, for leaking documents to WikiLeaks, in what is described as one of the largest security breaches in US history. She is now expected to walk out of prison, on 17 May 17.

In one of his final acts as President, Barak Obama commuted sentences of 209 individuals and granted pardons to 64 others; amongst whom Chelsea Manning finds mention. More than 100,000 people had signed a White House petition calling for Manning’s release or at least the commutation of her sentence.

Manning’s release of confidential military & diplomatic information, to WikiLeaks has received condemnation, from Military and Intelligence officials. However, she is also considered as a hero by Human Rights and transparency activists. To some she is a whistleblower, who lifted the veil on US military secrets and does not deserve to serve time. To others, including many Republicans, the commutation of her sentence is a mistake and will encourage other similar acts. Public opinion over Chelsea Manning is divided.

In the meantime, Eduard Snowden, the NSA contractor, who leaked information about mass surveillance programs, was granted an extended asylum in Russia. Snowden, unlike Manning escaped US and obtained asylum in Russia, before he could stand trial in the US. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder has been evading arrest in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, since 2012. Assange had recently tweeted that he was agreeable to being extradited to the US, if President Obama granted bail to Chelsea Manning. Will he follow up on that commitment?

Assessment

The Internet Society which governs and manages the WWW, is committed to providing universal access and sharing of information. Security of information was never a key result area for the Society, which accords higher priority for transparency. Even though information on the Internet had little security, organizations and governments proliferated Internet usage without first, ensuring safeguards. At this juncture, with the Internet’s extensive trans-national access, very little regulation and no international prosecution mechanism, national agencies can do little to prosecute individuals for cyber-crimes, beyond their national boundaries. Julian Assange, Eduard Snowden and Chelsea Manning are individuals who exploited the security-weaknesses of Internet, to proliferate information. In an ideal world, they would be toasted as upholders of truth and hopefully our imperfect world, should not take too long in recognizing them.

 

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