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Manning Sentencing Phase Begins

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md. after receiving a verdict in his court martial, July 30, 2013.
The military judge presiding over the court-martial of U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning is hearing arguments about how long he should be in prison for leaking government secrets to the WikiLeaks website.

Manning was found guilty Tuesday of nearly all 21 criminal charges he faced for handing over more than 700,000 secret documents, but the judge ruled he was not guilty of aiding the enemy through indirect means - a charge that could have sent him to prison for life, without possibility of parole.

The sentencing hearings beginning Wednesday will provide testimony to help Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, decide how much time Manning should spend in prison. The 25-year-old soldier, in custody since May 2010, faces a potential maximum term of 136 years for espionage, theft of public property, computer fraud and other charges.

The native of (the midwestern U.S. state of) Oklahoma had pleaded guilty to several of those charges.

Among the information released by Manning is video footage of a deadly U.S. military helicopter attack on a Baghdad neighborhood in 2007 that killed civilians and journalists working for the Reuters news agency.

Military prosecutors contended Manning was a "traitor" for revealing the secret documents, and that he should have known they could have gotten into the hands of the al-Qaida terrorist group.

Many advocates of open government have defended Manning and called for his release. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told reporters the prosecution of Manning was an example of "national security extremism."

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