Bradley Manning is to ask President Obama for a pardon following his 35 year-jail term. Meanwhile his supporters left the Maryland sentencing court in anger saying there were other people more deserving of a spell in prison than Manning.
Emotion prevailed as his backers felt Manning’s leaking of classified military material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks did not warrant the length of sentence.
“Sadness, anger, disappointment – all those feelings are heartbreak. People were crying after the trial, it’s just not a crime (for) which to lock up a young man with a conscience for so long,” said one supporter.
Private Manning was convicted of 20 counts including espionage last month. However his punishment is longer than any given to previous government officials who have leaked information to the media.
His lawyer David Combs said he will file clemency papers as soon as possible:
“The time to end Brad’s suffering is now. The time for our president to focus on protecting whistleblowers instead of punishing them is now. The time for our president to pardon Pfc Manning is now.”
If there is no pardon, Manning could be up for parole in seven years but in any case there will be an automatic appeal.
Correspondent Stefan Grobe was at the court for euronews:
“The sentence probably is a disturbing message for Edward Snowden, another young US intelligence leaker, who was recently granted temporary political asylum in Russia. Guilty or not – America owes Manning and Snowden a broader debate over government secrecy.”