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Manning Jailed For 35 Years For WikiLeaks Disclosures

  • RFE/RL

U.S. soldier Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for giving a trove of classified information to the WikiLeaks antisecrecy website.

Manning was sentenced on August 21 by a military court at Fort Meade, Maryland. Prosecutors had asked for a 60-year prison sentence.

Manning, a 25-year-old former intelligence analyst, was convicted last month on 20 charges, including espionage.

But the military judge dismissed the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, an offense that could have meant life imprisonment without parole.

Manning was arrested in Iraq in 2010 and has been in military custody since.

While stationed in Iraq, he had given WikiLeaks some 700,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables and battlefield reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history.

The documents published by WikiLeaks angered U.S. allies and prompted warnings from U.S. officials that troops and intelligence sources had been jeopardized.

Among the material leaked was cockpit footage of two U.S. Apache attack helicopters opening fire and killing 12 people in Baghdad in 2007.

Manning last week apologized for "hurting the United States." He had said earlier he wanted to provoke a debate on U.S. military and diplomatic actions.

During the trial, defense lawyers had argued that Manning was under severe mental pressure as a young man struggling with gender-identity issues at a time when gays were not allowed to serve in the military.

In the brief hearing on August 21, the military judge, Denise Lind, did not offer any explanation for the sentence.

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

Manning stood at attention while the judge read out the sentence and appeared not to react.

WikiLeaks said in a statement on August 21 that Manning's trial and conviction had been "an affront to basic concepts of Western justice."

Earlier, the antisecrecy organization said on Twitter that the 35-year sentence was "a significant strategic victory" as it meant that Manning was eligible for release "in less than nine years."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP