WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--August 21 - Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday for handing WikiLeaks a massive cache of sensitive government documents detailing the routine killing of civilians by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Outraged members of Veterans For Peace are joining in protest actions around the country and around the world.
"Bradley Manning is a hero, and we are both proud of his actions, and angry at his sentence,” said Patrick McCann, President of Veterans For Peace. “Reporting war crimes is not a war crime. Bradley Manning swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and is now being penalized for doing just that."
“This harsh sentence is an outrage to all who believe in truth, transparency and freedom of the press,” said Gerry Condon, member of Veterans For Peace Board of Directors. “Bradley Manning has not harmed a hair on any person's head. He exposed that the U.S. Military was routinely killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Government should prosecute war criminals, not whistle-blowers.”
While a 22-year-old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq in 2009-10, Pfc. Manning witnessed war crimes, rampant corruption, and covert abuse. He exposed what he saw by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic files to the transparency website WikiLeaks.
Manning, 25, was not allowed to make a statement when his sentence was handed down by military judge Col. Denise Lind at Fort Meade, Maryland. Guards quickly hustled him out of the courtroom, while at least half a dozen spectators shouted their support.
Amnesty International immediately called on President Obama to commute Manning's sentence.
“Bradley Manning acted on the belief that he could spark a meaningful public debate on the costs of war, and specifically on the conduct of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan," Widney Brown, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty International, said in a statement. "The US government should turn its attention to investigating and delivering justice for the serious human rights abuses committed by its officials in the name of countering terror.”
“The only person prosecuted for the crimes and abuses uncovered in the WikiLeaks’ releases is the person who exposed them,” said Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg. “That alone proves the injustice of one more day in prison for Bradley Manning.”
Manning can subtract more than three and a half years off of his 35-year sentence, for the time he has already served and the mere 112 days he was credited for enduring torture and abuse while detained at the Quantico Marine Brig. He will be eligible to reduce his sentence by 10% for good behavior. He may also be eligible for parole after serving one third of his sentence.
Veterans For Peace is calling on Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, Military Commander of the District of Washington and Convening Authority of Manning’s court martial, to reduce the sentence, which he has the legal authority to do.