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Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison
CBS NEWS Bradley Manning, the Army private who was responsible for the largest leak of confidential information in U.S. history, was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison by a military judge.
About 3.5 years (1294 days) will be subtracted from Manning's sentence. The 1294 days are the number of days he's been detained plus the 112-day credit he received for excessively harsh treatment while in a Marine brig in Quantico, Va.
Manning will also be dishonorably discharged, forfeit all pay and benefits, and be reduced to the grade of "private E-1" (PV1), the lowest rank possible for an enlisted member of the Army.
Manning stood at attention and appeared not to react to the sentencing, according to the Associated Press. Some of the spectators gasped when the verdict was read, and Manning's supporters expressed shock at the length of the sentence.
The 25-year-old who gave thousands of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks was acquitted of aiding the enemy in a military court-martial, but was convicted on multiple other counts.
The charge of aiding the enemy was the most serious of 21 counts. It carried a possible life sentence without parole. Manning was ultimately convicted of six espionage counts, five theft charges, a computer fraud charge and other military infractions.
Manning pleaded guilty earlier this year to reduced versions of some charges. He faced up to 20 years in prison for those offenses, but prosecutors pressed ahead with the original eight federal Espionage Act violations, five federal theft counts, and two federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations, each punishable by up to 10 years; and five military counts of violating a lawful general regulation, punishable by up to two years each. All told, Manning faced a maximum of up to 90 years in prison for his various convictions.
Manning had chosen to have his fate decided by a judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, rather than a military jury. Col. Lind gave no explanation for her verdict or why she was not convinced by the government's contention that Manning knew the material he provided to WikiLeaks would make its way to the enemy.
There were no minimum sentencing requirements for Judge Lind to follow.
A prosecutor suggested Manning be sentenced to 60 years in prison because he betrayed his country. The soldier's defense attorney didn't recommend a specific punishment but suggested the limit of his punishment should be 25 years, since that is when the classification of some of the leaked documents expires.
Manning, a native of Crescent, Okla., had prior to the verdict admitted to sending 470,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables and other material, including several battlefield video clips, to WikiLeaks while working in Army intelligence in Iraq in early 2010.
WikiLeaks published much of the material on its website, as well as in cooperation with several news outlets like The New York Times and The Guardian.
Prosecutors had argued that Manning had a "general evil intent" because he knew the classified material would be seen by and help terrorists. They claimed when Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden's Pakistani compound in 2011, they found copies of WikiLeaks documents that Manning had provided. Prosecutors also argued that Manning simply wanted to make a name for himself by leaking the classified material.
Manning himself did not testify during the trial itself, but in a pre-trial hearing said he wanted to expose what he called the American military's "bloodlust" and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as its dishonest diplomacy, and that he carefully selected material that wouldn't put troops in harms' way. His attorney has tried to portray Manning as a whistleblower with good intentions.
During a sentencing hearing, Manning apologized for causing harm to his country.
"I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that they hurt the United States," he said as he began.
The soldier said that he understood what he was doing but that he did not believe at the time he would cause harm to the U.S.
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