After Bradley Manning’s sentencing yesterday to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the public, Amnesty International called for the Obama administration to commute his sentence to time already served and allow for his immediate release.
They cite the more than three years he has already served in pretrial detention, included 11 months in torturous, inhumane conditions, as punishment enough and called for the US government to investigate the human rights violations that have occurred during the War on Terror – which many of the documents Manning leaked pointed to – rather than “sending a message” by giving him such a long sentence.
“Bradley Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of his motives for acting as he did, the treatment he endured in his early pre-trial detention, and the due process shortcomings during his trial. The President doesn’t need to wait for this sentence to be appealed to commute it; he can and should do so right now,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.
The prosecution was seeking 60 years, what could potentially be a life sentence for the young Army private, for his crimes. Manning’s defense attorney, David Coombs, argued that he should not be left to rot in jail and that he was an excellent candidate for rehabilitation.
“Perhaps his biggest crime was that he cared about the loss of life that he was seeing and couldn’t ignore it,” Coombs said.
Many have called Manning a traitor to his country, though he has many supporters within the media and the general public. As he left the courtroom yesterday morning, supporters called to him telling him that they were still here for him.
Manning’s defense is expected to file a petition with the U.S. Department of Justice for clemency soon.
Jesse Farthing is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.