UNITED STATES ARMY WHISTLEBLOWER Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday for leaking "hundreds of thousands" of confidential documents to anti-secrecy website Wikileaks.
In 2010 Manning handed over videos exposing the murder of two Iraqi journalists by a US Army helicopter crew and the abuse of detainees by Iraqi officers under the control of American forces, as well as more than 700,000 files of classified US State Department cables.
Last month a US military court found Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, a crime for which if found guilty he could have been sent to prison for life. However, Manning was convicted of 20 charges including violations of the Espionage Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the US code of military justice, which could have seen him face up to 90 years in prison.
The 25 year old Manning will be required to serve one third of his 35 year sentence before he becomes eligible for parole, reports claim. US military lawyer Colonel Morris David said that the sentence means that Manning is likely to serve between eight and nine years in prison.
While some have called Manning a hero, he apologised for his actions in court. He said, "I'm sorry I hurt people. I'm sorry that I hurt the United States.
"I'm apologising for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people."
Manning will also be dishonourably discharged from the US military and forfeit his pay. His rank will also be reduced to Private from Private First Class.
Leader of the UK Pirate Party Loz Kaye wasn't pleased with today's ruling, saying in a statement, "The conviction of Bradley Manning, while a foregone conclusion, is a devastating blow for him and all of us who care about protection for whistleblowers. Bradley Manning was very clear in his statement about why he did what he did. It was about holding power to account.
"Amnesty International is right when they say the US government's priorities are 'upside down'. We have a situation where states want to subject us to mass surveillance, yet when we put them under the spotlight it is deemed spying." µ