Bradley Manning (who now identifies as female and is going by “Chelsea Manning”) was offered a plea bargain by which he would plead guilty and testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in exchange for a reduced sentence. Manning refused the deal, because he was not willing to bolster the case against Assange. Manning worked with Assange to release over 700,000 classified documents.
Manning’s attorney David Coombs explained that testifying against Assange was a non-starter:
“Part of that would be to cooperate in testifying, so obviously we didn’t do that,” said Coombs at a press conference. “If the Department of Justice got their way, they would get a plea deal in this case, and my client would be named as one of the witnesses to go after Julian Assange,”
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on espionage charges (though he could be out in 8 years).
Julian Assange has not been formerly convicted of any crime, but there are legal inquiries into his role in the Manning case. Coombs has denied that Assange did anything other than provide a forum, WikiLeaks, for Manning to post the classified documents he obtained. Assange is currently under asylum at the British embassy in Ecuador. It’s possible that Assange could one day be joined by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has also brought on a lot of hardship in his own life to publicize objectionable conduct by the U.S. government.
Coombs has said that he will continue fighting for Manning, including petitioning President Obama to pardon Bradley Manning.