News / USA

Manning Supporters Disappointed By Lengthy Sentence

David Coombs, defense attorney for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, shakes hands with supporters at a news conference in Hanover, Md.,after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks,  Aug. 21, 2013.
David Coombs, defense attorney for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, shakes hands with supporters at a news conference in Hanover, Md.,after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, Aug. 21, 2013.
Carla Babb
The military and the government have deemed U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning a lawbreaker. But supporters say he is a whistleblower, and they have spoken out after a military judge sentenced him Wednesday to 35 years in prison for giving U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks.

Shocking. Unfair. Those are the words supporters used to describe Bradley Manning's 35-year prison sentence for giving U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks - secrets that sparked a dialogue about the activities of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, told reporters outside Fort Meade, near Washington, that the lengthy sentence brought him to tears.

"When I heard the sentence I thought to myself, I've represented hundreds of clients. My clients have ranged the full spectrum of people offenses - from people who've committed murder to people who have molested children - and those types of clients received less time that PFC Manning," said Coombs.

The military judge ordered Manning to be dishonorably discharged for his part in the biggest breach of classified documents in American history. The government has called his release of information "destructive" to U.S. interests.

But Manning's lawyer likened the army private's actions to anyone who legitimately exposed wartime truths. He called his case a watershed moment in press freedom that threatens the flow of information to the public.

"The loser is anybody who hopes that we will have whistleblowers in the future willing to come forward, because, as I said before, this does send a message, and its a chilling one, and it's endorsed at the very highest levels," he said.

About 20 supporters gathered outside a busy highway at the entrance of the fort ahead of Manning's sentencing.

Key Dates in WikiLeaks

  • 2006: Set up by a group of people, including Australian Julian Assange.
  • 2008: Publishes the contents of Sarah Palin's hacked e-mail account.
  • 2009: Posts thousands of text messages from U.S. emergency workers and military personnel from September 11, 2001.
  • 2010: Releases hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. military documents and diplomatic cables.
  • 2011: Assange appeals extradition from Britain to Sweden on sex crimes charges.
  • 2012: British court upholds extradition of Assange, who takes refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London.  Ecuador grants him asylum in August.
  • 2013: U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years after being found not guilty of aiding the enemy but guilty of several other charges for leaking U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks.
Farah Muhsin defiantly held up a sign that read "Thank you, Bradley Manning," even as some drivers in the military town honked and shouted obscenities out of their windows.

"Bradley Manning did the right thing in my opinion. He saw war crimes and he refused to be quiet about it," said Muhsin.

Not all in the military community disapprove of Manning's actions. Take Ken Howland, for instance. The former military medic in the Vietnam War protested at Fort Meade in support of Manning for hours. He told VOA he, too, would have leaked information if he thought it exposed war crimes.

"Soldiers' duty, honor country, and you might add the truth. That's rather important and that's something worth fighting for, but people should know what's going on and he made an effort to do that," said Howland.

Manning's lawyer says the next step will be to appeal to the military's convening authority to try to reduce his sentence. He also is filing a request to have the president pardon Manning.

"The time for our president to focus on protecting whistleblowers instead of punishing them is now. The time for our president to pardon is now," said Coombs.

Manning writes in a letter read by his lawyer that if the president does not pardon him, he will serve his time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. He could be eligible for parole in about seven years.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid