Bradley Manning was sentenced today to 35 years in prison for handing hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks. Those documents covered America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The sentence was handed down by Colonel Denise Lind.
The twenty-five year old Manning was convicted in July of 19 counts including espionage, but was found not guilty of the most grievous charge of aiding the enemy. The charges he was found guilty of carry a maximum sentence of 90 years. The prosecution asked that he serve 60.
Some have pointed out that Manning had a long list of mental issues that should have been brought up in the criminal phase of his trial rather than during the sentencing. One piece of information that was not brought up was the fact that his superiors considered him such a danger to himself and others that they had the firing pin of his service pistol removed.
Among the information that Manning gave to Wikileaks was video of an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed two Reuters journalists and several civilians. The incident was already covered heavily in the news when it occurred, and the soldiers involved already disciplined.
Manning also provided Wikileaks with some 750000 field reports and diplomatic cables. Almost none of which provided new information on the war.
Manning will most likely serve out his term in the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He will be credited for time served. His sentence will be reviewed by Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, the commander of the Military District of Washington. He can only reduce the sentence or toss the convictions, however.
At that point, the verdict can be appealed to the Army Court of Criminal Appeal and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Manning is openly gay, and some people have said that he stole the documents as part of some kind of protest against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell despite there being no evidence of that.