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Chelsea Manning to be released from prison in May

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manningPRESIDENT Barack Obama has commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the United States Army soldier who was born in Pembrokeshire and attended Tasker Milward School in Haverfordwest.

Chelsea, 29, is currently serving a 35 year sentence after being convicted of leaking classified documents to the Wikileaks website and has been the focus of many campaigns as she serves the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

Chelsea is transgender and previously went by the name of Bradley.

She is now due to be released on May 17, six years into her sentence.

Her family have released a statement which says:  “We are all overjoyed that Chelsea will soon be free.

“Chelsea exposed wrongdoing and was punished for being a whistleblower.

“We regret that it has taken so long for President Obama to commute the sentence and are outraged that Chelsea has been forced to endure such abusive treatment in prison.

“We agree with the UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez that some of this abuse amounted to torture.

“We sincerely hope that Chelsea will now be able to get on with the rest of her life and that she finds happiness and fulfilment in whatever she chooses to do.

“There will always be a welcome for her here in Wales.

“We will not be giving any interviews to the media and ask to be left in peace and for our privacy to be respected.”

A White House spokesperson said: “Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,”

On Friday (Jan 13) Wikileaks took to Twitter, writing: “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (US Department of Justice) case.”

Julian Assange has been sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault.

Assange has previously said he believes he would then be extradited to the US where further charges could be filed against him for his publication of classified documents.

Neither Wikileaks nor Mr Assange has yet commented on the news of Manning’s early release.

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Conservatives hold on to Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat

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THE CONSERVATIVES have held on to their Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat despite Labour closing the gap.

Sam Kurtz will take over the seat from the outgoing Angela Burns who held a majority of 3,400 at the last election.

This time, the gap was just 936 to Labour’s Hassan Riaz who picked up 10,304 votes.

Plaid Cymru’s Cefin Campbell picked up 6,615 votes.

The turnout in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire was slightly up to 52.12% from 51.2% in 2016.

However, with a larger electorate thanks to votes for 16/17-year-olds, the number of votes cast went up by almost 3,000.

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Paul Davies re-elected as Conservatives hold Preseli Pembrokeshire

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PAUL DAVIES has been re-elected to represent the Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency.

He won with 12,295 votes, while there were 10,895 votes for Labour’s Jackie Jones.

Plaid Cymru candidate Cris Tomos gained just over 6,000 votes and there were also 1,239 for Reform UK candidate Alan Dennison.

There were over 3000 more votes cast in 2016, down largely in part to the fact that 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote in this election.

Both the Conservatives and Labour received more votes than before while the gap to Labour closed to just 1,400.

After being elected, Paul Davies said he would continue to ‘fight for Pembrokeshire’ and thanked those who had been involved in his campaign.

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Former Cardigan Castle director sentencing delayed

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THE SENTENCING of a former director of Cardigan Castle who has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft totalling over £40,000 has been delayed.

Former director, Jac Davies, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft was due to be sentenced on Wednesday (May 4) at Swansea Crown Court – but has now been delayed.

Davies who held the £40,000 a year post fraudulently obtained £33,098.75 and stole a further £7,932.97 from the award winning restoration project..

Davies held his position at Cardigan Castle from September 2017 to November 2019.

The defendant has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining £4,143.20 from the castle on December 21, 2017.

Again Davies admitted to fraudulently obtaining £28,955.55 between February 4, 2019 and November 3, 2019.

Two further charges of theft were also admitted – one charge of  theft from the castle of £1,908.18 between May 2, 2018 and May 24, 2019 and a further charge of theft from Cardigan Castle Enterprises to the sum of £6,024.79.

Dyfed-Powys Police conducted a year long investigation after being contacted by the castle board of directors.

Financial discrepancies were identified during financial monitoring.

An internal investigation was launched and Davies left his position within the castle in October 2019 following a disciplinary process.

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