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US whistleblower Manning sentenced to 35 years in jail

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-22

A judge has sentenced former US soldier Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison on Wednesday at a military court in Maryland. Manning leaked information to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified data in US history.

US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday for providing secret government files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of secret government files in US history.

Judge Colonel Denise Lind, who last month convicted Manning of 20 charges including espionage and theft, could have sentenced him to as many as 90 years in prison, though prosecutors had asked for 60 years. He will also be eligible for parole.

Lind did not offer any explanation for the sentence. Manning, who will be dishonorably discharged from the US military and forfeit some of his pay, stood at attention and appeared not to react.

Last week, the 25-year-old, apologised for “the unexpected results” of his actions, telling the court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland, that the last three years had been a “learning experience”.

While stationed in Iraq in 2010, Manning sent hundreds of thousands of military reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, Julian Assange’s online pro-transparency organisation.

Manning has said that his he was seeking to provoke a national debate about US foreign policy and that he was disillusioned by an American foreign policy bent on “killing and capturing people”.

WikiLeaks hailed the sentence, which was less than expected, as a "significant strategic victory" in a tweet on Wednesday, calculating how soon Manning would be eligible for release. "Significant strategic victory in Bradley Manning case. Bradley Manning now eligible for release in less than nine years, 4.4 in one calculation," the organisation tweeted.

Mental pressure

Manning’s defence team said he was under severe mental pressure when he sent the classified information, as a young man struggling with gender identity issues at a time when openly gay people were not allowed to serve in the military. Among the evidence was a photo of him in a blond wig and lipstick.

Prosecutors said the leaks endangered the lives of US intelligence sources and prompted several ambassadors to be recalled, reassigned or expelled. They did not present any evidence in open court that anyone was physically harmed as a direct result of Manning’s actions.

Manning will get credit for the more than three years he has been held, but he’ll have to serve at least one-third of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

 

Date created : 2013-08-21

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