Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning, who facilitated the largest unapproved leak of national security information in U.S. history, was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday. Manning was convicted in July on charges related to espionage.
Taking into account the possibility that Manning could be free in 10 years, her sentence is potentially harsher those of individuals who have taken up arms against the United States. The government charged Manning with "aiding the enemy" but individuals the government claims are actual enemies of the United States could or have spent less time in prison than Manning could. Here's a few of them:
David Hicks: An Australian national who was captured fighting alongside the Taliban and sent to Guantanamo Bay prison in 2002, Hicks plead guilty to material support for terrorism in a Gitmo military commission in 2007 and was sentenced to seven years confinement. That sentence was reduced to nine months given time already served.John Walker Lindh: Lindh was convicted of a slew of terrorism and conspiracy charges in 2003 for fighting with the Taliban against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.Noor Uthman Mohammed: Mohammed plead guilty to material support for terrorism and conspiracy in a Gitmo military commission in 2011 and received a 14 year sentence.Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri: Al-Marri, a Qatari citizen in the U.S. on a student visa who admitted attending "terrorist training" camps, was held in military confinement without trial for more than five years before ultimately pleading guilty in federal court to material support for terrorism. He was sentenced to fifteen years, minus seven for time already served.Kevin William Harpham: A white supremacist who attempted to bomb a Martin Luther King day parade in Spokane, Wash., Harpham plead guilty in 2011 to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and "attempt to cause bodily injury with an explosive device because of actual or perceived race, color and national origin" in 2011, and received a 32-year sentence.
The Gitmo military commissions have handed out famously light sentences for serious charges (some of which have been subsequently invalidated by a federal court). Some human rights advocates have argued that some of the above sentences are themselves excessive. Nevertheless, Manning, who says she leaked the information to "help, not hurt people" will likely be incarcerated for longer than individuals the government claims had every intention of hurting people.
This post has been updated to acknowledge Manning's announcement that she identifies as a woman.