Today, a military court-martial sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking government documents to Wikileaks. In July, Manning was found not guilty of the most serious charge against him, "aiding the enemy." However, he was found guilty of another 19 charges, including 5 counts of espionage.
Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, had this reaction today:
"When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it's also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate."
For nine months while awaiting trial, Manning was held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day in a windowless cell. He had his glasses taken away so that he could not read, he was subjected to sleep deprivation through repeated physical inspections at night, and he was repeatedly forced to strip naked. Earlier this year, a military court ruled that Manning’s treatment was excessively harsh. As a result, Manning would have 112 days taken off his sentence if convicted of a crime. Today he was sentenced to somewhere around 12,775 days. If only the 112 that will be shaved off could somehow make up for the torture he endured.