Three years ago, Bradley Manning leaked sensitive national-security materials, including videos of airstrikes and hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, causing an international uproar. Three weeks ago, Manning was convicted on muliple counts, including illegally releasing classified documents knowing they would be accessible to the enemy.
Today, he was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Manning was convicted on July 20 of 21 criminal counts, including espionage and disobeying orders, for providing 700,000 classified documents to online transparency group WikiLeaks in 2010.Manning was also given a reduction in rank and a dishonorable discharge, although he will be eligible for parole and will get credit for the three and a half years he has already spent in jail. He is likely to spend only another ten years in prison.The 25-year-old had faced a possible maximum sentence of 90 years in prison. The prosecution had sought a sentence of 60 years.
Manning's backers have argued that the case will have a chilling effect on future leaks, which I suspect was the point of the 35-year sentence -- a more lenient punishment wouldn't have sent so severe a message to others who may be tempted to divulge classified materials.
While an appeal is already underway, also note that Manning has already spent three-and-a-half years in custody -- all of which will be applied to his sentence -- and with good behavior, will likely be released long before the 35 years are up.