Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison

9:43 AM, Aug 21, 2013   |    comments
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Bradley Manning (Getty Images)

FORT MEADE, Md. -- A judge has sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving US secrets to WikiLeaks.

The judge in the case, Army Col. Denise Lind announced the sentence in a military courtroom Wednesday morning.

He also received a dishonorable discharge, will forfeit his pay and benefits and was reduced in rank.

Manning had faced a maximum of 90 years in prison after his conviction last month on charges of espionage, theft and fraud.

Prosecutors urged the judge to sentence Manning to 60 years as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to leak secret documents.

"He betrayed the United States, and for that betrayal, he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in confinement," Capt. Joe Morrow said.

Manning's defense had urged the military to sentence Manning, who served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, to no more than 25 years in prison.

Manning leaked secret documents, which included battlefield reports and State Department cables, to WikiLeaks, which posted them on the Internet.

The U.S. government said his actions jeopardized U.S. interests and exposed informants and sources to danger. Manning's defense painted him as a misguided idealist who opposed the war in Iraq.

"He had pure intentions at the time that he committed his offenses," defense attorney David Coombs said. "At that time, Pfc. Manning really, truly, genuinely believed that this information could make a difference."

Manning's defense attempted to "play up the human aspect" of Manning by highlighting mental health issues, said Phil Cave, a former military lawyer now in private practice

Defense witnesses testified about Manning's "gender-identity disorder," which contributed to the mental stress he was under.

Under military law, the sentence would be automatically appealed. He would probably be eligible for parole after he served one-third or 10 years of his sentence, whichever is longer.

(USA Today contributed to this report.)

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