Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced this morning to 35 years in prison for passing classified documents to Wikileaks that exposed war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. None of the those crimes have been investigates and no one has been charges in their commission.
The sentence was more severe than many observers expected, and is much longer than any punishment given to any previous US government leaker.
The 25-year-old soldier was convicted last month of leaking more than 700,000 classified documents and video. The disclosures amounted to the biggest leak in US military history.
He was found guilty of 20 counts, six of them under the Espionage Act, but was acquitted of the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy”. [..]
The 1,294 days Manning has already spent in military custody, since May 2010, will be deducted from his sentence. The figure includes 112 days that is being taken off the sentence as part of a pre-trial ruling in which Lind compensated Manning for the excessively harsh treatment he endured at the Quantico marine base in Virginia.
He has to serve a minimum of a third of his sentence, meaning he will be eligible for parole in just over eight years, and, at the very earliest, could be released under parole soon as 2021. He can earn 120 days per year off his sentence for good behaviour and job performance.
Manning faced a maximum possible sentence of 90 years, although few legal experts expected he would receive anything near that amount.
The sentence will automatically be appealed.
We are outraged that a whistleblower and a patriot has been sentenced on a conviction under the Espionage Act. The government has stretched this archaic and discredited law to send an unmistakable warning to potential whistleblowers and journalists willing to publish their information. We can only hope that Manning’s courage will continue to inspire others who witness state crimes to speak up.
There are calls for President Barack Obama to pardon Manning or commute his sentence to time served. Considering Obama had declared Manning guilty before the trial started, there are serious doubts that will happen.