founder Julian Assange said whistleblower Bradley Manning’s sentence was a legal victory (Reuters)
Julian Assange has praised the 35-year prison sentence handed down to US Army intelligence whistleblower Bradley Manning as a victory.
Manning, who leaked thousands of top-secret documents to Assange at WikiLeaks, had scored a hit because he could be out of military jail in less than a decade, the freedom of information campaigner claimed.
Manning was sentenced by a military court at Fort Meade, Maryland, and dishonourably discharged from the army for the leaks. It was the longest prison term imposed on an American soldier for sharing government secrets in recent decades.
The sentence was reduced by three and a half years for time served by the 25-year-old intelligence officer and military judge Col Denise Lind ruled he will be eligible for parole after serving at least a third of his term.
"This hard-won minimum term represents a significant tactical victory for Bradley Manning's defence, campaign team and supporters," said Assange.
"At the start of these proceedings, the United States government had charged Bradley Manning with a capital offence and other charges carrying over 135 years of incarceration.
Prosecutors asked for a minimum 60-year prison sentence to serve as a warning for other soldiers.
"While the defence should be proud of their tactical victory, it should be remembered that Mr Manning's trial and conviction is an affront to basic concepts of Western justice," Assange continued.
Manning was arrested in 2010 when it was revealed that he had passed thousands of documents, including diplomatic cables, videos and warzone logs, to Assange while working as an army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
He spent three years in pre-trial detention, including 11 months in conditions described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture as cruel and inhumane.
Rights group have condemned the sentence and Amnesy International appealed to President Barack Obama to set Manning free immediately.
"The only just outcome in Mr Manning's case is his unconditional release, compensation for the unlawful treatment he has undergone, and a serious commitment to investigating the wrongdoing his alleged disclosures have brought to light," Assange added.
"Mr Manning's treatment has been intended to send a signal to people of conscience in the US government who might seek to bring wrongdoing to light. This strategy has spectacularly backfired.
"Instead, the Obama administration is demonstrating that there is no place in its system for people of conscience and principle. As a result, there will be a thousand more Bradley Mannings," concluded Assange who is has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for a year, after having lost a legal battle to avoid extradition in Sweden on sexual assault and rape charges.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that if a request for a pardon for Manning were lodged with Obama, it would be considered like any other.
Manning's defence team is to appeal against the sentence.
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