Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison

US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning arrives alongside military officials at a US military court facility to hear his sentence in his trial at Fort Meade, Maryland on August 21, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

Source: Russia Today

A US military judge has sentenced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison. Manning faced up to 90 years behind bars, while prosecutors sought to put the whistleblower away for a minimum of six decades.

Manning will be credited with the 1,294 days he spent in pre-trial confinement plus an additional 112 days. He was also dishonorably discharged, saw his rank reduced to private from private first class and was forced to forfeit all pay and benefits. No additional fine, however, was levied against him. Manning will have to serve a third of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Col. Denise Lind, who on Tuesday began her deliberations in the court-martial case, announced the sentence shortly after 10am local time (14:00 GMT). Lind read out the sentence succinctly and provided no other statement as a gaggle of journalist’s waited in anticipation. Flanked by his lawyers, Manning, 25, stood at attention and appeared not to react when Lind announced the punishment, AP reports. He further made no statement after his fate was announced

Immediately after sentencing, Amnesty International called on President Barack Obama to commute Manning’s sentence to time already served to allow his immediate release.

"Instead of fighting tooth and nail to lock him up for decades, the US government should turn its attention to investigating and delivering justice for the serious human rights abuses committed by its officials in the name of countering terror,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

The American Civil Liberties Union was also quick to excoriate the decision.

“When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system,” said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, decried the sentence as "unprecedented" in its magnitude.

"It's more than 17 times the next longest sentence ever served" for providing secret material to the media, said Goitein. "It is in line with sentences for paid espionage for the enemy."

Manning's lawyer David E. Coombs had asked the judge for leniency, requesting a sentence that did not “rob him of his youth." Coombs argued that Manning's leaks had not endangered the US.

The prosecution had sought a 60-year sentence, arguing the stiff term would deter others from leaking classified information.

"There's value in deterrence," prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow said in his closing argument on Monday

Protesters with the Bradley Manning Support Network hold a vigil while waiting to hear Manning's sentence on August 21, 2013 outside the gate of Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. (AFP Photo / T.J. Kirkpatrick)

Last week the 25-year-old Manning apologized for the “unintended consequences” of his actions, saying he believed he was “going to help people, not hurt people."

He told the court at Fort Meade, Maryland, that "the last three years have been a learning experience for me."

WikiLeaks responded to Manning’s mea culpa, saying “the only currency this military court will take is Bradley Manning’s humiliation.” The anti-secrecy group continued that Manning’s “forced” apology was done in the hopes of “shaving a decade or more off his sentence.”

The soldier was convicted last month of 20 charges including espionage, theft and violating computer regulations. Manning was found not guilty, however, of the most serious charge – aiding the enemy – which entailed a potential sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Manning faced up to 90 years in prison for passing on more than 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010. He was later arrested in Iraq in May of that year.

He also leaked video of ‘Collateral Murder’ video, which shows a US helicopter attack in Baghdad in which at least nine non-combatants were killed, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Manning is entitled to appeal against any verdict handed to him by the court-martial in the Army Court of Criminal Appeal within six months

Collateral Murder Bradley Manning Leaked Video Clip

Video Source: Sunshine Press

Manning's sentence unjustifiably harsh, crimes he exposed remain unpunished – Moscow

Source: Russia Today

Moscow has slammed the “harsh” sentence for US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, saying it was apparently meant to scare away other whistleblowers, and was not in accordance with human rights standards.

When the USA’s interests are at stake, the American judicial system, as in the case of Bradley Manning, takes unjustifiably harsh decisions based on the principle of 'let’s teach them so that it doesn’t become a habit' – and without any glance at the human rights aspects,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov told reporters on Wednesday.
Calling Manning’s case an example of US “double standards in regard with the supremacy of law and human rights,” Dolgov argued it showed that America’s claims for leadership in those respects are “groundless.”

The Foreign Ministry official then cited international human rights groups – including those in based in the US – who believe Manning has revealed “widespread abuses on the part of the US Army during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the deaths of civilian, the torture of prisoners, as well as the other grave abuses of the international human rights law. ”

Despite all the efforts of rights groups and the UN Human Rights Council, no one in the US was held accountable for these crimes, Dolgov added

FREE Bradley Manning!!! Jail the top brass of the US Military for their War Crimes in Iraq AND the US Government executive for their Aggressive war on the sovereign nation of Iraq!

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