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Manning Faced With Possible Life in Prison as Sentencing Hearing Begins

Prosecution to call witnesses today, fight for longest jail time possible

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

The sentencing hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning began Wednesday morning, the day after the army whistleblower was handed a guilty verdict on numerous charges including five counts of espionage that could potentially hold over 100 years in prison.

Judge Col. Denise Lind will now hear arguments from both the prosecution and defense over how much time Manning should spend in jail following the verdict that critics are calling a blow to whistleblower protections and press freedom across the world.

Follow Kevin Gosztola's live blog for updates or watch live tweets below from journalists and experts following the hearing:

Manning, who exposed U.S. war crimes through revealing a trove of U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks, was found guilty on Tuesday of nearly all 21 criminal charges that he had faced in the military court in Fort Meade, Maryland.

The Center for Constitutional Rights blasted the verdict on Tuesday, stating:

While the “aiding the enemy” charges (on which Manning was rightly acquitted) received the most attention from the mainstream media, the Espionage Act itself is a discredited relic of the WWI era, created as a tool to suppress political dissent and antiwar activism, and it is outrageous that the government chose to invoke it in the first place against Manning. Government employees who blow the whistle on war crimes, other abuses and government incompetence should be protected under the First Amendment.

Each side will call up to 20 witnesses, meaning the sentencing phase will not conclude today.

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