The long-running trial of WikiLeaks informer Pfc. Bradley Manning has come to an end. A military judge sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison. On July 30, Manning was found not guilty of ‘aiding the enemy,’ but was still found guilty on 19 lesser counts, including six counts of espionage.
Manning faced up to 90 years in prison. He apologized for his actions in front of the court. As he has already spent more than 3 years in prison and was given 112 days of credit for harsh treatment, his stay in prison will be shorter than 35 years.
He is no longer considered as a private first class as judge and colonel Denise R. Lind reduced him to private E-1, the lowest rank of private. According to the New York Times, prosecutors requested 60 years in prison in their closing arguments in order to discourage any potential future leak.
Most of the sentencing phase was spent trying to determine whether Manning’s actions had had damaging consequences on international relations between American diplomats and foreign officials. The case will now move to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
In 2009, Manning had access to multiple databases of classified information while serving for the U.S. Army in Iraq. He leaked thousands of diplomatic cables, a video of a Baghdad airstrike, the Iraq War Logs and Afghan War Logs and field reports to the organization WikiLeaks. These documents were later sent to multiple newspapers, including the Guardian and the New York Times, between April and November 2010. The impressive leak led to many revelations on American diplomatic activities.
As expected, Manning’s lawyer justified the leak by arguing that the public had the right to know what was happening in Iraq. Manning admitted as well that he had “hurt the United States.” The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the decision.
(Image credit: Truthout.org)