Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier who become one of the most notorious whistleblowers in modern history, has had the majority of her sentence commuted by departing president Barack Obama. Manning will be released on the 17th May as a gift of Barack Obama.

In the most contentious commutation decision made by Obama during his presidency, the departing president wielded his constitutional power a mere three days before leaving the White House to give Manning her freedom. Manning, a transgender woman, was arrested at a base outside Baghdad. Manning, 29, was an intelligence analyst in Iraq who was sentenced in 2013 after a military court convicted her of passing over 700,000 private documents, videos and battlefield accounts to Wikileaks.

A Democratic hero

Manning's lawyer, Nancy Hollander, said: "Oh my God! The ordeal is finally over. I cannot believe it-in just 120 days she will be released from military prison and it will be over. This is both incredible and unexpected". Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International, said: "Manning exposed serious human rights abuses and, as a result, had her human rights violated by the government for years. Obama was absolutely correct to commute her sentence, but that doesn't alter the fact that it is long overdue. It is disgusting that she was made to languish in prison for years. She is a tragic hero".

Republican anger

Senator John McCain took a different perspective, chastising Obama on his way out of the White House.

"It is a sad yet fitting commentary on President Obama's failed national security policies that he would commute the sentence of an individual that endangered thousands of American troops, diplomats and intelligence sources".

Similarly, Paul Ryan, the House speaker, stated that: "This is an outrageous injustice. Chelsea Manning's treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our most sensitive secrets.

Obama leaves a dangerous precedent that allows people who compromise our national defence to get away without being held accountable".

However, the issue appears to be far from over. President elect Donald Trump, who faces a sexual assault lawsuit filed by a contestant on his television show "The Apprentice", is reportedly "troubled" by Obama's surprise decision. Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, said: "The decision is disappointing and it sends a troubling message".