Reuters reports that former intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified information to the media – 700,000 files worth of classified information – was sentenced today to 35 years behind bars in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth.
The case stems from Manning’s work as a U.S. Army soldier in Baghdad. In 2010, Manning was accused of leaking the files to Julian Assange’s infamous (“infamous,” depending on who you ask) whistleblower site WikiLeaks. The information, among other things, showed a U.S. attack chopper killing a dozen people, including two Reuters employees.
The perceived significance of Manning’s prison sentence varies from outlet to outlet.
Ian Simpson and Medina Roshan with Reuters quote one military law expert who said: “The message will be sent in a loud and clear fashion to all those in uniform that they do not get to make decisions on what is legitimate and what is not, with regard to U.S. policy.”
Julian Assange’s statement, released on WikiLeaks today, offers a slightly different perspective. Assange wrote that Manning’s defense lawyers “should be proud of their tactical victory,” referring to Manning’s minimum sentence – just over 5 years – with a maximum of 32 years. (Commentators believe he’ll serve 10.) Assange goes on to opine that the whole thing was an “affront to basic concepts of Western justice,” arguing that Manning should be released and compensated.