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Supporters call for Presidential pardon
U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced today to 35 years in prison for his role in leaking thousands of government documents to WikiLeaks. He was also demoted to private and dishonorably discharged.
A military judge convicted Manning last month of 20 offenses, including six violations of the Espionage Act and five counts of stealing protected information. Prosecutors has asked that he serve 60 years in jail for the crimes. Manning's defense team had asked for 25 years.
Manning showed no reaction as guards led him from court hile some supporters in the gallery shouted "hero."
Later at a post-sentencing news conference, lead defense attorney David Coombs told how Private Manning responded to the sentencing behind closed doors.
"Well, we went back into the room, and myself and others were in tears because this means a lot to us," Coombs says. "And so he looks at us and says, 'It's OK, don't worry about it, it's OK. I know you did your best, it's OK. I'm going to be OK. I'm going to get through this.'"
Manning is expected to be remanded to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to begin his prison term immediately. Under military law, his sentence will be automatically appealed.
Activist and author Dr. Cornell West who watched the sentencing from inside the courtroom says Manning s court martial sparks a new dialogue.
"Along with Edward Snowden and others, we're really having a public conversation about authoritarianism and the overall lack of transparency in our society," West says.
Supporters are asking President Obama to pardon Manning. The convicted former army private will have to serve at least a third of his sentence, or approximately 8 years before he'll be eligible for parole