Aug 21 2013
Manning will send a personal plea to Barack Obama next week for a presidential pardon after he was sentenced on Wednesday to 35 years in prison for passing hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks.
The sentence was more severe than many observers expected, and is much longer than any punishment given to previous US government officials who have leaked information to the media.
Manning showed no emotion, neither when the sentence was delivered, nor after being escorted into a side room, where his lawyers and members of his family were waiting, some of them in tears.
“Everyone was emotional from his defence team, including myself,” his lawyer, David Coombs, told the Guardian. “The only person that wasn’t emotional was Brad. He looked to us and said: ‘It is okay’ … I am going to move forward and I’m going to be alright’.”
After the sentence, Manning was taken to a side room, where Coombs, was waiting in tears. “[Manning] looked to me and said: ‘It’s OK. It’s all right. I’m going get through this’,” Coombs told reporters later. “If nothing else, he is a resilient young man.”
Coombs told a press conference that next week he will formally submit the request for a pardon, “or at the very least commute his sentence to time served”. That request will contain a personal appeal from Manning to Obama, which his lawyer read out.
“When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love to my country and a sense of duty to others,” Manning will tell Obama. “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”
Coombs said the military’s decision to seek a charge of aiding enemy – which ultimately failed – was placed amid a “government-wide crackdown” on journalists and whistleblowers that should alarm those who care about a free press.
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