FORT MEADE, Md. — Army Private First Class 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, Manning, 25, 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.
At Manning’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors are presenting evidence that the leaks damaged US interests. They have focused mainly on the impact of more than 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks began publishing in November 2010.
Major General Michael Nagata testified for the prosecution Tuesday that the leaked cables had an impact on US military operations in Pakistan, where he was deputy commander of a defense office within the US embassy in Islamabad. Nagata saved the details of the impact for a closed court session to protect classified information.
The leaked cables revealed a closer US-Pakistani military relationship than Pakistan had publicly acknowledged. The cables also disclosed US concerns that 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.