Military judge weighs sentencing for Manning in WikiLeaks case

FORT MEADE, Maryland Thu Aug 1, 2013 5:01am EDT

1 of 2. U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning is escorted into court for the first day of the sentencing phase in his military trial at Fort Meade, Maryland July 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/James Lawler Duggan

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FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - A military judge on Thursday will continue to weigh arguments on how long to imprison Bradley Manning for releasing a huge amount of classified U.S. data through the WikiLeaks website.

Judge Colonel Denise Lind earlier this week found Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, 25, guilty of 19 criminal counts related to the leak. The crimes carry penalties that could lead to up to 136 years in prison.

Prosecutors opened the sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial on Wednesday by arguing the intelligence analyst hurt national security and damaged relationships with intelligence sources overseas when he leaked more than 700,000 secret diplomatic and war documents.

One prosecution witness, John Kirchofer, chief financial officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said it cost the federal government $6.2 million to review the threat posed by Manning's release.

Defense lawyers, who during the court-martial portrayed Manning as naive but well intentioned, are expected to call for leniency, arguing the soldier wanted to provoke a broader debate on U.S. military policy, but not to harm anyone.

The slightly built Army private first class was in Baghdad in 2010 when he was arrested and charged with leaking files, including videos of a 2007 attack by an American Apache helicopter gunship in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff. Other files contained diplomatic cables and secret details on prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

Observers said the verdict could have "a chilling effect" on WikiLeaks by making potential sources in the United States more wary about handing over secret information.

It could also encourage the United States to seek to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for his role in publishing the information.

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for over a year to avoid extradition to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual assault. The activist says he fears Sweden might hand him over to U.S. authorities.

(Writing by Scott Malone. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Comments (1)
PJW5552 wrote:
Gee, I thought what the leaks showed was that instead of classifying bad deeds as secret, it would be far better not to engage in them in the first place or admit when you make a mistake. Apparently, the practice of our government is to blame the messenger who exposes them!

Aug 01, 2013 4:39am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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