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When Compared to Other Military Cases, How Long Is Bradley Manning Likely to Be Sentenced to Prison?

Bradley Manning

A sentencing verdict in the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning will be announced this week. Convicted of twenty offenses, including the embezzlement of government property and multiple violations of the Espionage Act, which stem from providing United States government information to WikiLeaks, Manning faces a maximum punishment of ninety years in military prison.

Judge Army Col. Denise Lind is likely to rule on the sentence some time Tuesday or Wednesday. The verdict will come after sentencing argument during the afternoon and evening of August 19.

In anticipation of a sentencing verdict, what should be expected and what would be proportional when compared to other military cases or espionage cases?

First off, Manning is not a spy nor was it ever alleged by any military prosecutor that Manning was operating as a spy. The closest military prosecutors ever came to suggesting Manning was operating as a spy was when they discussed how they believed he had been working on behalf of WikiLeaks as some kind of insider. But, like seven others who leaked information while the administration of President Barack Obama was in power, Manning was prosecuted as if he was a spy and was charged with violations of the Espionage Act (and convicted of those violations).

None of the charges involve the selling of secrets to any enemy groups, foreign nations or private organizations. They do, however, involve “wantonly causing to be published intelligence on the internet that would be accessible to the enemy.” The judge concluded, “At the time of the charged offense, al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were enemies of the United States. Pfc. Manning knew that al Qaeda was an enemy of the United States.” His conduct was “of a heedless nature that made it actually and imminently dangerous to others.”

Manning was also convicted of willfully communicating information to persons unauthorized to receive it. That information could have been used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, according to the judge’s “special findings” for the verdict.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."