After being found guilty for disclosing over 700,000 classified U.S. files to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning has asked, via defense attorney David Coombs, that Judge Colonel Denise Lind not "rob him of his youth." This request came in response to prosecutors urging a minimal sentence of 60 years for the largest unauthorized release of secret documents in U.S. history. Specifically, Coombs and his defense team have suggested a prison term of no more than 25 years, hopeful that Manning can start anew following his release.
Manning, now 25, was working as a low-level intelligence analyst in Baghdad when he handed over reams of classified Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks in 2010. Also included in the leak that hurtled Julian Assange into infamy was a video of a US helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed nine. Captain Joe Morrow stated in the prosecution's closing argument on Monday that "[t]here's value in deterrence", confident that a harsh, lengthy prison sentence will discourage other soldiers from repeating Manning-like behavior.
The prosecution was successful in convicting Manning of 20 offenses last month, including six Espionage Act violations, five counts of theft, and one count of computer fraud. Under US military law, Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan must review the verdict along with the sentence. Buchanan, as the Convening Authority for the court martial, retains the right to reduce the sentence if he sees fit. However, if Buchanan approves a sentence involving a bad-conduct discharge, a dishonorable
discharge, or confinement for a year or more, the case will automatically be sent to the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals for review.
Appeals can further be made to the military's highest court, the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Regardless of Manning's sentence, he must serve at least one third of it before achieving any eligibility for parole. He will begin his sentence with a credit of nearly four years, earned in pre-trial confinement.
After nearly three hours of deliberation, Lind stated today that Manning's sentence would be announced by 10am on Wednesday.
If you are facing military discharge or you have been accused of a crime while in the military, contact Disman Military Advocates without delay. We can offer you the aggressive defense that you and your case deserve.