By Ian Simpson
Bradley Manning, the US soldier convicted of the biggest breach of classified data in the nation’s history by providing files to Wikileaks, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday.
Judge Colonel Denise Lind, who last month convicted Manning of 20 charges including espionage and theft, could have sentenced him to as many as 90 years in prison. Prosecutors had asked for 60 years.
Manning, 25, will be dishonorably discharged from the US military and forfeit some pay, Lind said. His rank will be reduced to private from private first class.
Manning would be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence, which will be reduced by the time he has already served in prison plus 112 days.
In 2010, Manning turned over more than 700,000 classified files, battlefield videos and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, the protransparency website, in a case that has commanded international attention.
Defence attorneys had not made a specific sentencing request but pleaded with Lind not to “rob him of his youth.”
Manning was working as a low-level intelligence analyst in Baghdad when he handed over the documents, catapulting WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, into the international spotlight.
The classified material that shocked many around the world included a 2007 gunsight video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Baghdad. Among the dozen fatalities were two Reuters news staff. WikiLeaks dubbed the footage “Collateral Murder.”
The case highlighted the difficulty in keeping secrets in the Internet age. It raised strong passions on the part of the US government, which said Manning had put American lives at risk, and anti-secrecy advocates, who maintained Manning was justified in releasing the information.