35 YEARS’ imprisonment faces former Tasker Milward pupil Bradley Manning, following his conviction of offences related to the provision of confidential military and diplomatic material to the Wikileaks website. He has also been dishonourably discharged from the US Army.
Passing the sentence Judge Colonel Denise Lind said that credit would be given to Manning for the three and a half years for the time spent on remand awaiting trial and remitted a further period of 112 days due to the harsh conditions in which he had originally been kept.
Prosecutors had sought a significantly longer sentence for Manning, who was cleared of offences that could potentially have led to the death penalty being passed on him.
Speaking after sentencing, Manning’s lawyer David Coombs said that he would be asking US President Barack Obama for a pardon for his client. ‘The time to end Brad’s suffering is now.’ Mr Coombs told the press after the hearing.
According to his lawyer Pte Manning said ‘The decisions I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world we live in,’
Reading his client’s statement Mr Coombs went on, ‘When I chose to disclose classified information… I did so out of love for our country and a sense of duty for others. If you deny my request for a pardon I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.’
The sentence came after ten weeks of hearings and legal argument. Following his conviction, the Court had heard of Manning’s troubled psychiatric history. Expert witness Captain David Moulton USN testified that Pte Manning felt abandoned by friends and family and that his personal relationship was ‘in a rough patch’.
According to evidence presented by the defence, Private Manning’s military supervisors ignored warning signs about his mental condition, including an incident when he tried to grab a gun during a counselling session.
Defence attorney David Coombs argued in Court that his client’s erratic behaviour in the period leading up to the leak of the documents was evidence that Private Manning was unfit for overseas service in Iraq.
Mr Coombs said that his client would be eligible for release in about seven years’ time.
Bradley Manning’s sentence will be subject to automatic review and may be reduced as part of that process.
It is thought Private Manning will serve his time at Fort Leavenworth, a military installation in Kansas.