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US prosecutors seek 60-year prison sentence for Manning

© AFP

Video by Stephen Carroll

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-20

US prosecutors are asking for a 60-year prison sentence to be handed down to US soldier Bradley Manning, who leaked a huge collection of classified documents to Wikileaks. The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, will start deliberations at 9am on Tuesday.

An American military judge will begin on Tuesday to deliberate the sentence she will hand down to the American soldier Bradley Manning for leaking classified material to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Manning, 25, faces up to 90 years in prison for leaking over 700,000 U.S. military and diplomatic documents and battlefield video footage showing the brutal killing of civilians.

The judge in Manning’s court martial, Col. Denise Lind, found him guilty in July of 20 criminal charges, which carry a possible prison sentence of up to 90 years. Yet she found him not guilty of the most serious charge - aiding the enemy - which could have carried a penalty of life in prison without parole.

On Monday, a prosecutor said Manning should spend 60 years in prison because he betrayed the US by giving classified material to WikiLeaks.

But his defence attorney suggested any prison term shouldn't exceed 25 years because the classification of some of the documents Manning leaked expires in 25 years.

The prosecutor, Captain Joe Morrow, admonished Manning, who "took an oath and he knowingly broke it."

"He's been convicted of serious crimes,'' Morrow said. "He betrayed the United States and for that betrayal, he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in confinement.''

Prosecutors also asked the judge to fine Manning $100,000, reduce his rank to private and give him a dishonorable discharge.

But defence attorney David Coombs said Manning, who was 21 when he enlisted in 2007, had limited experience in life and in the military. His youthful idealism contributed to his belief that he could change the way the world viewed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all future wars, by leaking the secret files, Coombs said.

"Perhaps his biggest crime was that he cared about the loss of life and that he couldn't ignore it," defence attorney David Coombs said during closing arguments of the sentencing part of Manning's court martial.

Coombs also said the government's proposed sentence means the prosecution is only interested in punishment - having Manning "rotting in a jail cell'' - and does not aim for rehabilitation. He urged the judge to hand down a sentence that "allows him to have a life'' one day.

"This is a young man who is capable of being redeemed,'' he said, adding, ''we should not rob him of his youth."

According to defence testimony during the trial, military supervisors ignored bizarre acts by Manning that included trying to grab a gun during a counseling session. Defense attorneys had argued that such actions showed Manning was not fit for duty overseas.

Manning took the stand last week and apologised for hurting his country, pleading with the judge for a chance to go to college and become a productive citizen.

Family members and a psychologist testified for the defence, saying the soldier felt extreme mental pressure in the military because of his gender-identity disorder during the "don't ask, don't tell'' era.

Coombs also presented evidence that Manning's unit needed intelligence analysts so badly that a supervisor failed to report to commanders his concerns about Manning's deteriorating mental health.

Such a report could have prevented Manning from being deployed or resulted in his top-secret security clearance being revoked.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-20

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