Judge sentences Bradley Manning to 35 years
A military judge on Wednesday sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison, bringing to a close the government’s determined pursuit of the Army intelligence analyst who leaked the largest cache of classified documents in U.S. history.The long prison term is likely to hearten national security officials who have been rattled by the subsequent leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Manning’s conviction might also encourage the government to bring charges against the man who was instrumental in the publication of the documents, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
A military judge sentenced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving a trove of military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks.
Manning’s supporters and detractors took to Twitter to voice their opinions on his 35-year sentence.
Manning, 25, was acquitted last month of the most serious charge he faced — aiding the enemy — but was convicted of multiple other counts, including violations of the Espionage Act, for copying and disseminating classified military field reports, State Department cables, and assessments of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.“The message won’t be lost for everyone in the military,” said Steven Bucci, director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. “When you sign a security clearance and swear oaths, you actually have to abide by that. It is not optional.”Civil liberties groups condemned the judge’s decision.“When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system,” said Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it’s also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.”
Manning will receive 31 / 2 years of credit for time served in pretrial confinement and for the abusive treatment he endured in a Marine brig at Quantico, making him eligible for parole in seven years. He will serve his sentence at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
On Wednesday, Manning stood at attention, with his attorneys at his side and his aunt behind him, as he listened to Judge Denise Lind read the sentence aloud. He did not appear to react to her decision.
Lind, an Army colonel, also said Manning would be dishonorably discharged, reduced in rank to private, and forfeit all pay. He had faced up to 90 years in prison.
As Manning was escorted out of the packed courtroom at Fort Meade, more than half a dozen supporters shouted out to him: “We’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley! You’re our hero!”
According to his attorney David Coombs, Manning told his distraught defense team after the sentence was issued, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I know you did your best. I am going to be okay. I am going to get through this.”
Coombs said at a news conference that he will seek a presidential pardon for his client in the coming weeks. He read a statement from Manning in which the private reiterated his reasons for leaking classified material, saying he had “started to question the morality” of U.S. policy. Manning added that if his request for a pardon is denied, he will serve his time “knowing sometimes you pay a heavy price to live in a free country.”
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