Bradley Manning Wikileaks sentence expected

US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning is escorted by military police as he arrives for his sentencing at military court facility for the sentencing phase of his trial in Fort Meade, Maryland on 21 August 2013 Pte Manning has said he wanted to spark public debate about US foreign policy

The US soldier convicted of leaking masses of secret files to the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks is to learn his fate later on Wednesday.

Pte First Class Bradley Manning will be sentenced at his court martial at 10:00 local time (14:00 GMT) at Fort Meade.

The prosecution have asked for a 60-year term, arguing a long sentence would deter others from leaking.

Last week the 25-year-old apologised for hurting the US and for "the unexpected results" of his actions.

Pte Manning told the court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland that "the last three years have been a learning experience for me".

Wikileaks

  • Website with a reputation for publishing sensitive material
  • Run by Julian Assange, an Australian with a background in computer network hacking
  • Released 77,000 secret US records of US military incidents about the war in Afghanistan and 400,000 similar documents on Iraq
  • Also posted video showing US helicopter killing 12 people - including two journalists - in Baghdad in 2007
  • Other controversial postings include screenshots of the e-mail inbox and address book of US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin

The soldier was convicted last month of 20 charges including espionage, theft and violating computer regulations.

While stationed in Iraq in 2010, he passed hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, the pro-transparency group headed by Julian Assange.

Pte Manning said in a pre-trial hearing that his motivation for leaking the secret files was to spark a public debate about US foreign policy and the military.

The judge at his court martial, Col Denise Lind, found him not guilty of the most serious charge he faced, aiding the enemy, which would have brought a possible sentence of life without parole.

Gender issues

As an intelligence analyst in the US Army, Pte Manning had access to a large amount of very sensitive information, despite his junior rank.

The young soldier grew up in Oklahoma, and in Wales, where his mother is from, and reportedly joined the US Army to help pay for college.

A military psychiatrist has told the court that Pte Manning had struggled with his gender identity and wanted to become a woman at the time of the leak.

Navy Capt David Moulton testified that the intelligence analyst had felt abandoned by friends and family during his time in Iraq and that his relationship with his boyfriend was in difficulties.

According to evidence presented by the defence at his trial, military supervisors ignored erratic behaviour from Pte Manning, which included trying to grab a gun during a counselling session.

His lawyers said such actions had shown that Pte Manning had not been fit for duty overseas. He became increasingly isolated while deployed to Iraq, the court heard.

Defence lawyers said Pte Manning spent weeks in a cell at Camp Arifjan, a US Army installation in Kuwait.

Pte Manning told the court he remembered thinking: "I'm going to die, I'm stuck inside this cage."

A noose was found by guards in his cell. Pte Manning said he could not even remember having made it because he was so confused.

"My nights were my days and my days were my nights," he told the court. "It all blended together after a couple of days."

Defence lawyers said Pte Manning was treated unfairly in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia.

Pte Manning's leaks enabled Wikileaks to publish sensitive messages between US diplomats and records of military incidents in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a cockpit video showing a US Apache helicopter killing 12 people in the Iraqi capital in 2007.

The revelations caused significant embarrassment to the US government.

Responding to Pte Manning's statement of apology to the court last week, Wikileaks said the soldier's "forced decision to apologise to the US government in the hope of shaving a decade or more off his sentence must be regarded with compassion and understanding".

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