US army private Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing classified documents to whistle blowing platform WikiLeaks.
Manning was convicted last month on 20 charges that include espionage and theft. Judge Colonel Denise Lind could have handed down a prison sentence of up to 90 years, although the prosecution had asked for 60 years jail time. The sentence was reduced from 35 years by time served to date – Manning has been in custody since July 2010 – plus an additional 112 days for harsh treatment suffered by Manning since his arrest.
Lind added that Manning will be dishonourably discharged from the army and forfeit some of his pay.
Manning was a low-level intelligence analyst when he handed over more than 700,000 classified files including battlefield videos and diplomatic cables to the pro-transparency website WikiLeaks in 2010. The US government argued that his actions had put American lives at risk.
Anti-secrecy and human rights groups have hailed Manning as a hero; Amnesty International has urged President Barack Obama to commute his sentence.
WikiLeaks claimed on Twitter that the 35-year sentence was a “strategic victory” as Manning could be released from prison in as little as nine years.
Significant strategic victory in Bradley Manning case. Bradley Manning now elegible for release in less than 9 years, 4.4 in one calculation— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 21, 2013