The Washington Times
Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the soldier convicted of giving a trove of secret US documents to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks, was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday in the largest public breach of classified data in history.
The judge, Col. Denise Lind, also demoted him to private and dishonorably discharged him from the Army at the brief hearing. She did not provide any reasoning for the sentence.
Manning, 25, was convicted July 30 on 20 charges, including six under the Espionage Act, for downloading, copying and passing to WikiLeaks more than 700,000 raw US military battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department cables, all classified "Secret."
He also provided WikiLeaks with a classified 2007 gun-sight video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Baghdad. The video -- which shows a dozen people, including two employees of the Reuters news agency, being mowed down amid casual chatter by the troops -- was dubbed by WikiLeaks "Collateral Murder."
In her verdict last month, Col. Lind found Manning not guilty of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, an offense that could have meant life in prison without parole.
Maj. Ashden Fein, the prosecutor, argued that the controversial charge was justified because Manning gave secrets to a group of anti-secrecy activists, knowing the material would be seen by terrorists.
"WikiLeaks was merely the platform which Pfc. Manning used to ensure all the information was available for the world, including enemies of the United States," Maj. Fein said.
Manning on Wednesday faced a potential maximum sentence of 90 years. Prosecutors had asked this week for a 60-year sentence, while the defense asked for a term of no more than 25 years, which is when the classification of most of the documents he leaked will expire.
Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, argued during the court-martial that his client had acted from the best of motives.
"At that time, Pfc. Manning really, truly, genuinely believed that this information could make a difference," he said.
But in court documents released earlier this week that explained her verdicts, Col. Lind said Manning's conduct "was both wanton and reckless."
Manning himself apologized last week in a short statement during the court-martial's sentencing phase.
"I'm sorry that my actions hurt people," he said. "I'm sorry that they hurt the United States. When I made these decisions, I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people."
Although he acknowledged that he "must pay a price" for his actions, he also expressed the hope to "return to a productive place in society."
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 08/21/2013
The BasicsProject.org informational and educational pamphlet series is now available for Kindle and iPad. Click here to find out more...
The New Media Journal and BasicsProject.org are not funded by outside sources. We exist exclusively on tax deductible donations from our readers and contributors.
Please make a tax deductible donation today.