US Army judge to sentence WikiLeaks’ Manning today

Manning could face up to 90 years in prison

Bradley Manning arrives at the courthouse during his court martial at Fort Meade in Maryland yesterday.

Bradley Manning arrives at the courthouse during his court martial at Fort Meade in Maryland yesterday.


Bradley Manning, the soldier convicted of giving classified US files to WikiLeaks, will be told today how much of his life will be spent in a military prison, a US Army spokesman said yesterday.

Manning, a 25-year-old private first class, could face up to 90 years in prison for passing more than 700,000 classified files, battlefield videos and diplomatic cables to the pro-transparency website. Prosecutors asked for 60 years, while the defence asked the judge not to rob him of his youth.

Manning, a low-level intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010 when he handed over the documents, was convicted in July on 20 counts including espionage and theft.

He was found not guilty on the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which had carried a possible sentence of life in prison without parole.

Release of the documents catapulted WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, to the international spotlight and heightened a debate on government secrecy. A US rights group has said Manning should be a candidate for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Prosecutors have contended that when Manning turned over the secret documents he had put national security, including overseas intelligence operatives, at risk.

His defence argued that he had hoped to spark a broader debate on the role of the US military and make Americans aware of the nature of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to defence testimony, military supervisors ignored erratic behaviour by Manning that included trying to grab a gun during a counselling session.

Defence attorneys argued that such actions showed Manning, who is gay and was increasingly isolated in Iraq, was unfit for duty overseas.

During a pre-trial hearing the judge, Col Denise Lind, reduced Manning’s sentence by 112 days because of harsh treatment after his arrest in 2010. He likely will be imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Manning apologised to the court for what he had done, saying, “I understand I must pay a price for my decisions.”

The trial is winding down at the same time the US is seeking the return of Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who disclosed details of secret US surveillance programmes.
– (Reuters)