Pressure Increases for Obama to Grant Chelsea Manning Clemency

The hashtag #HugsForChelsea is going viral as thousands across the country offer their support for her release.

Marchers with banner for Chelsea Manning, a Wikileaks whistleblower, marching at the 2014 Gay Pride Parade on Fifth Avenue. (Photo courtesy Shutterstock)

UPDATE, Jan. 18: As many, many media sources have reported, Chelsea Manning’s sentence has been commuted, and she should be released in five months. While creators of the #HugsForChelsea hashtag surely can’t take all the credit, the public outpouring of support has certainly added to the pressure on President Obama to use his power for good before his presidency is over.

As the clock ticks down on Barack Obama’s presidency, the demand from Civil Rights groups is getting louder for him to offer Chelsea Manning clemency. While it may seem like a long-shot, it’s not entirely impossible—NBC News published an article last week stating that Manning was on the “short-list” for commutation. While the source they reference is anonymous, the theory is that she could potentially be granted clemency this week.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in August 2013, after released hundreds of thousands of classified files to Wikileaks. She’s also a transgender woman, originally serving under the name Bradley Manning while in the Army, before announcing that she prefers to go by Chelsea.

Now, to show support for Manning’s release, thousands of people have taken to social media sharing images under #HugsForChelsea.

“As President Obama’s days in office wind down, people from all walks of life are standing in solidarity with Chelsea and urging the President to save her before it is too late,” said Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney. “After years of suffering in prison under horrific conditions including long stretches of solitary confinement, the denial of health care for gender dysphoria and arbitrary punishments including for attempting suicide, Chelsea needs to be set free before this treatment results in her death.”

The ACLU is joined by dozens of civil rights organization in supporting Manning’s release, as evidenced in this letter to the White House from last December. Check out their social media pages to find ways to help, or share your own #HugsForChelsea images on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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