Statement of Leading Whistleblower Attorney Stephen M. Kohn on the Commutation of Chelsea Manning’s Prison Sentence

The White House announced today that President Obama commuted the prison sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Manning was convicted of stealing and disseminating government documents and videos to WikiLeaks.

Manning, a former US Army soldier, is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth in eastern Kansas. A White House statement on Tuesday said her prison sentence is set to expire on May 17.

Leading whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn issued the following statement regarding the commutation of Manning’s prison sentence.

“President Obama should be commended for this humanitarian act. Chelsea Manning has suffered enough and many of her disclosures served the public interest. Regardless of anyone’s opinion as to whether or not an employee should leak confidential information, we strongly oppose using the Espionage Act as a prosecutorial tool against whistleblowers.”

“Employees should not randomly leak classified information.  It is risky and even if you think you will remain confidential, you most likely will not.  We urge any whistleblower who wishes to blow the whistle on classified issues to contact attorney with expertise in handling sensitive disclosures.”

“The commutation is a positive step towards rectifying the misuse of the Espionage Act. We hope that this action signals a potential fair resolution of the Obama Administration and Edward Snowden’s ongoing dispute.”

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Stephen M. Kohn, a partner in the law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center.  He has represented whistleblowers with top secret clearances in counterterrorism, illegal searches under the National Security Letter program, discrimination against Arab American agents in the FBI’s counterterrorism division and the leading whistleblowers in the first World Trade Center bombing and the Oklahoma City bombing cases. He is the author of The Whistleblowers Handbook.