World News

US Army Intelligence Leaker Gets 35-Year Prison Term

U.S. Army private Bradley Manning has been sentenced to a 35-year prison term for handing a vast collection of classified information to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of official secrets in American history.

A U.S. military judge, Colonel Denise Lind, imposed the lengthy term Wednesday at the Fort Meade military base in (the eastern state of) Maryland. She said the 25-year-old former intelligence analyst would be dishonorably discharged from the military and forfeit his pay.

Manning had faced as much as 90 years in prison, with government prosecutors calling for a 60-year sentence and Manning's lawyers asking for leniency to give him a chance at rehabilitating his life. Under military prison rules, he could be eligible for parole in about seven years.

The sentencing ended a 12-week trial and a lengthy legal battle over Manning's intentions when he disclosed more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks. The documents included U.S. State Department diplomatic cables and American battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. One video showed a U.S. helicopter attack that killed two civilians.

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, the government's former chief prosecutor against accused terrorists held at the Guantanamo base in Cuba, testified on behalf of Manning. Davis told VOA that Manning deserved a stiff sentence for leaking the information, but that the documents he disclosed mostly served to embarrass the U.S. rather than harm it.





"There was no real value to al-Qaida or anyone else from these classified documents when they could go on Google and get the same information. So, I think that doesn't excuse turning over classified documents, but in assessing the harm, it's hard to see where there's any real harm here other than just embarrassment to the U.S. government."



Manning and his defense lawyers claimed that he had idealistic intentions in releasing the information, believing he could expose the truth about U.S. involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His lawyers also said the gay soldier's gender identity crisis contributed to his actions at a time when the U.S. expelled military personnel who were openly homosexual.

In a courtroom apology last week, Manning told Lind, "I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people."

But government prosecutors called Manning "the determined insider," who within weeks of his 2009 deployment to Iraq had started working to disclose the cache of information to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. They called his release of the information "destructive" to U.S. interests.

Lind last month convicted Manning of 20 of the 22 criminal charges he faced, but not of aiding the enemy, the most serious offense he faced, which carried a possible term of life imprisonment without parole.

Under U.S. military law, prisoners can earn up to 120 days a year off their sentences with good behavior behind bars, but must serve at least one third of their term before being eligible for parole. Manning will receive credit for the three and a half years he has already been confined.

WikiLeaks called the sentence a "strategic victory," since he will be eligible for parole in less than nine years.

Manning has drawn a small group of supporters who consider him a whistleblower who legitimately exposed inconvenient, war-time truths the government did not want divulged. Some of them shouted support for him as guards led him away after he was sentenced.

Later, his lawyer, David Coombs, said he would ask U.S. President Barack Obama to pardon Manning for his offenses.

The outcome of the Manning case has been watched closely as the U.S. deals with new disclosures in recent weeks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden about clandestine spy programs conducted out by the country's National Security Agency. Snowden is now living in Russia in temporary asylum, with Moscow rejecting a request by Mr. Obama to expel him to stand trial in the U.S. on espionage charges.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs