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January 08, 2013

Military Judge Reduces Possible Sentence in WikiLeaks Case

by VOA News

A military judge has reduced the possible sentence for a U.S. Army analyst accused of leaking classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.

Judge Denise Lind ruled Tuesday that the potential sentence for Army Private First Class Bradley Manning would be reduced by 112 days because of his treatment at a military jail after his arrest.

Manning has been in custody since mid-2010.  For part of that time, authorities kept Manning under a suicide watch, confining him to a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes without clothing.

The judge ruled at a pretrial hearing that that type of punishment was "more rigorous than necessary" and that the conditions "became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests."  She said, however, that the punishment did not warrant the defense's call to drop all charges.

Manning faces 22 charges, including "aiding the enemy," which carries a maximum life sentence.  His trial is set to begin March 6.

The leaked diplomatic cables and military reports, published by WikiLeaks starting in July 2010, infuriated the international community, often providing blunt and unflattering U.S. views of world leaders' private and public lives.

U.S. officials say WikiLeaks' publication of the stolen documents put American lives in danger, threatened national security and undermined U.S. efforts to work with other countries.

Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters and AFP.