Under the order, Chelsea Manning's sentence will expire on May 17, 2017

By TIME Staff
January 17, 2017 04:58 PM

President Obama shortened the sentence of Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier who admitted to leaking secret government documents to WikiLeaks. She had been sentenced to serve 35 years behind bars.

Under the President’s order, Manning’s sentence will expire on May 17, 2017.

Chelsea, who was born Bradley Manning, came out as a transgender woman after she was sentenced to serve 35 years in prison. She’s faced trouble in her efforts to transition behind bars. In 2016, a petition garnered 100,000 signatures calling for President Obama to release her early.

Credit: U.S. Army/AP

The president’s announcement came as a surprise to Evan Greer, a friend and supporter of Manning’s who spoke to TIME on Tuesday. The president’s decision, Greer said, is “saving Chelsea’s life.”

“She has so much to offer the world. It’s incredible that she’ll be able to do that now and people will be able to learn about who she is as a whole being,” Greer said. “Her friends and supporters and legal team will be jumping into action to be there for her and help her return to her life.”

Manning’s was one of 209 commutations granted by President Obama on Tuesday. He also pardoned 64 individuals.