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Bradley Manning's maximum sentence reduced to a possible 90 years
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Bradley Manning's maximum sentence reduced to a possible 90 years
Bradley Manning's maximum sentence reduced to a possible 90 years
Rare victory for defence as judge agrees that some of 20 counts soldier was convicted on should be merged to cut sentence

Ed Pilkington, Guardian, August 7, 2013.

[Image: Bradley-Manning-leaves-co-010.jpg]
Defence lawyers argued that the government had taken single acts of criminality and split them into several separate violations. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Bradley Manning's maximum possible sentence for leaking state secrets to WikiLeaks was cut from 136 years to a possible 90 years on Tuesday, marking a rare victory for the defence in a trial that has so far swung almost exclusively in the US government's direction.

The judge presiding over the court martial, Colonel Denise Lind, granted the most elements of a defence motion calling for some of the 20 counts for which Manning has been found guilty to be merged on grounds that they repeat each other. In the motion, defence lawyers argued that the government had taken single acts of criminality and split them into several separate violations – thus multiplying the possible sentence.

"By dividing this ongoing act into two separate specifications," the motion says, referring to the soldier's transmission of the US embassy cables to WikiLeaks, "the government takes what should be a 10-year offence and makes it a 20-year offence and unfairly increases Pfc Manning's punitive exposure".

Lind granted all defence requests to merge counts, except specifications four and six of charge II that relate to stealing and purloining of the Iraq and Afghan warlogs. Reporters present in the court said they were unable to record details of the judge's ruling because she read her judgment so fast.

In previous hearings, the Guardian has counted that she reads at a rate of 180 words per minute. In one session, even the stenographers employed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation as a way of injecting public accountability in the trial process struggled to keep up with Lind as she read.

"Judge Lind recitation of her ruling on merging of sentencing charges was ridiculously fast. NO respect for the public and press," tweeted the independent journalist Alexa O'Brien. Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network concurred: "Judge read merger ruling too fast to transcribe."

The merging of offences is the first glimmer of hope for the army private since he was found guilty of 20 of the 22 counts that he faced as a result of leaking more than 700,000 documents to the anti-secrecy website. He was found not guilty on the most serious charge, "aiding the enemy", and of another count relating to the transmission of an encrypted video of a US air strike in Garani, Afghanistan.

Lind is presiding over the case alone, in the absence of a jury, at the request of Manning. The sentencing phase, a form of mini-trial, is expected to last at least two more weeks, with the defence planning to call more than 20 witnesses once the prosecution has completed its sentencing testimony.

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Bradley Manning's Maximum Possible Sentence Cut To 90 Years
By David Dishneau 6 August, 2013, 02:51pm ET EDT AP

FORT MEADE, Md. -- Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's possible sentence for disclosing classified information through WikiLeaks was trimmed from 136 years to 90 years Tuesday by a military judge who said some of his offenses were closely related.

The ruling was largely a victory for defense attorneys, who had argued for an 80-year maximum. Still, the 25-year-old soldier could spend most, if not all, of his remaining years inside a prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial is in its second week. He was convicted last week of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, five federal theft counts and a federal computer fraud charge for leaking more than 700,000 documents from a classified government computer network while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010.

Manning says he leaked the material to expose wrongdoing by the military and U.S. diplomats. He contends he selectively leaked material that wouldn't harm service members or national security.

At his sentencing hearing, prosecutors are presenting evidence that the leaks damaged U.S. interests. They have focused mainly on the impact of more than 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks began publishing in November 2010.

Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata testified for the prosecution Tuesday that the leaked cables had an impact on U.S. military operations in Pakistan, where he was deputy commander of a defense office within the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. Nagata saved the details of the impact for a closed court session to protect classified information.

The leaked cables publicly revealed a closer U.S.-Pakistani military relationship than Pakistan had publicly acknowledged. The cables also disclosed U.S. concerns Islamist militants could get their hands on Pakistani nuclear material to make an illicit weapon. One leaked cable revealed that instructors at a prestigious Pakistani defense institution were giving anti-American lessons to senior officers.

U.S. officials said in 2010 the leaked cables may have endangered operatives inside Afghanistan and Pakistan who had worked against the Taliban or al-Qaida. However, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said at the time that cables implying some Pakistani intelligence officials were aiding insurgents were "clearly out of step with where this relationship is now, and has been heading for some time."

Prosecutors also have presented evidence the disclosures damaged America's military and diplomatic relationships with some foreign governments and endangered the lives of foreign citizens who had confided in diplomats.

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08-07-2013 11:47 AM
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