Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced on Wednesday to 35 years in prison by a military judge for leaking classified information to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
Manning, a private in the Army, was arrested in May 2010 on allegations that he passed classified and sensitive information to WikiLeaks. After a nearly two-month court martial, Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge against him, but was convicted on espionage and theft charges. The soldier faced the death penalty had he been convicted of aiding the enemy.
Due to time served, Manning's 35-year sentence will be reduced by a little more than three years, and he'll be eligible for parole in about 11 years. Manning was also dishonorably discharged from the Army as part of his sentence.
At his court martial, Manning, 25, was found to have sent more than 700,000 classified Army files to WikiLeaks in the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Those files included logs from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the now-famous “Collateral Murder” video. The clip, obtained by WikiLeaks, shows a U.S. Apache helicopter firing on suspected insurgents in Iraq in 2007. The attack also killed two Reuters journalists.
Manning’s case was controversial, with some suggesting that he was a hero for leaking the classified information. Others viewed the soldier as a traitor due to his actions. The leaks contained files from a nearly five-year period (January 2004 to December 2009.) The documents were published in the New York Times, the Guardian and German publication Der Spiegel.
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Last week, Manning said he helped his country by providing the classified information to WikiLeaks.
"I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people," he said.
Manning's attorney, David Coombs, said he would hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. EDT to discuss the 35-year sentence.