Courtroom sketch shows Private Bradley Manning being escorted out after being sentenced for his role in leaking cables to Wikileaks. (Source: Reuters)
Today, Private First Class Bradley Manning received his sentence after being convicted last month of espionage, computer theft, and fraud by military officials for leaking cables to Wikileaks. The Cablegate instigator received a relatively harsh sentence: Army Colonel Denise Lind sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison. In addition, Manning recieved a demotion to Private, loss of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge from the United States Army. To give some respite, Colonel Lind granted Manning eligibility for parole a third of the way through his sentence, and reduced his sentence by 1,294 days for time served.
Bradley Manning's sentencing at least partly ends the drama that has surrounded both himself and the Wikileaks organization, which is currently aiding and working with intelligence analyst Edward Snowden on his work with the National Security Agency. Manning was arrested in May 2010 after leaking hundreds thousands of documents to
Wikileaks, including video footage of air strikes in the Iraq and Afghan wars. The primary source of concern was hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables from the State Department, which were sent to Wikileaks, though the bulk of the charges were mostly related to the military footage.
Of course, Bradley Manning could have ended up with a far worse outcome. The 19 counts that Manning was convicted carried a total sentence of 136 years. During the tense sentencing period, Army prosecutors pushed to have Manning sentenced for 60 years, representing most of his life, and a $100,000 fine, as a form of "deterrence" against his form of whistle-blowing. However, they also claimed that Manning "betrayed America," despite the fact that he was acquitted on that related charge, aiding the enemy. Manning's defense pled leniency in sentence, emphasizing Manning's struggle with his gender and sexuality, as well as his intentions.
Colonel Lind gave Bradley Manning credit for time served, which as of today is 1,184 days. Lind also gave Manning an additional 112-day credit for time served, due to pre-trial treatment she saw as "more rigorous than necessary." Lind is referring to Manning's initial detention, where he spent nine months in solitary confinement, in a windowless cell for 23 hours a day. This detention made Manning a cause celebre among the anti-war left.
Given the time served, if Manning fails in his attempts for clemency, which he is in the process of doing, he would be eligible for parole in 2021 at the earliest.