A military judge has sentenced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving a trove of military and diplomatic secrets to the website WikiLeaks. Manning was sentenced Wednesday at Fort Meade, near Baltimore.
Prosecutors had asked for a 60-year sentence. He will receive credit for three and a half years already served.
Pte First Class Bradley Manning, 25, was convicted in July of 20 charges against him, including espionage.
In the military courtroom in Fort Meade, Maryland, Judge Col Denise Lind declared Pte Manning would be dishonourably discharged from the US Army and forfeit some of his pay.
Manning could have gotten 90 years behind bars. Prosecutors asked for at least 60 years as a warning to other soldiers, while Manning’s lawyer suggested he get no more than 25, because some of the documents he leaked will be declassified by then.
Manning leaked some 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and US State Department diplomatic cables in 2010 while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. He also leaked video of a US helicopter attack in Baghdad in which at least nine people were killed, including a Reuters news photographer.
Last week, Manning apologized for hurting the U.S., and he pleaded with Lind for a chance to go to college and become a productive citizen.
The Obama administration has charged seven people with leaking to the news media, while only three people were prosecuted in all previous administrations combined.
Among those seven is Snowden, whose leak has triggered a fierce debate over security vs. privacy and strained U.S. relations with Russia, which is harboring him despite demands he be returned to this country to face charges.
In addition, the Justice Department has obtained the records of phones used by Associated Press journalists and emails of a Fox News reporter.
Also, a federal appeals court ruled recently that New York Times reporter James Risen cannot shield his source when he testifies at the trial of a former CIA officer accused of leaking information about a secret operation.
A lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Michael Ratner, has suggested Manning’s conviction could make it easier for federal prosecutors to get an indictment against Assange as a co-conspirator.
But other legal experts said the Australian’s status as a foreigner and a publisher make it unlikely he will be indicted.
In July, Manning was found guilty of 20 criminal counts including espionage and theft, but not of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge, which carried a possible sentence of life in prison without parole.