“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.
"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."
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
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.
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.