Army Private First Class Bradley Manning was sentenced on Wednesday morning to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents via WikiLeaks, The Guardian reported.
Manning was found guilty on July 30 of violating the Espionage Act for providing the information site with more than 700,000 documents, videos and diplomatic cables.
Military prosecutors asked Judge Colonel Denise Lind on Monday for a 60-year sentence for Manning, the second reduction from a maximum sentence of 136 years in prison, following Lind paring that to 90 years on August 6.
Update, 10:24 a.m. EST: Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who served at chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, predicted on Twitter that military rules on parole eligibility and confinement credits would suggest a truncated prison stay for Manning.
Based on a 35-year sentence, Davis wrote, Manning will “likely serve about 8 to 8.5 yrs more in confinement and be out by the time he’s 33 or 34.”
Update, 10:29 a.m. EST: The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said in a statement on Wednesday that it was outraged by the sentence and argued that Manning should never have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act, which it called an outdated law.
“This show trial was a frontal assault on the First Amendment, from the way the prosecution twisted Manning’s actions to blur the distinction between whistleblowing and spying to the government’s tireless efforts to obstruct media coverage of the proceedings,” CCR’s statement read. “It is a travesty of justice that Manning, who helped bring to light the criminality of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, is being punished while the alleged perpetrators of the crimes he exposed are not even investigated.”
In a separate statement, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the verdict a sad day for Americans reliant on a free press and whistleblowers.
“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,” ACLU speech, privacy and technology project director Ben Wizner said in his group’s statement. “A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]