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Bradley Manning to Speak in His Own Defense

Statement comes as defense gives arguments during sentencing, global supporters rally behind the whistleblower

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Army whistleblower Bradley Manning will make a statement at his trial this Wednesday, his lawyers announced, marking a highly anticipated portion of his sentencing hearing as his defense runs down the home stretch with a sentence expected to come as early Friday.

While Manning declined to make a statement during his trial, he declared in February pre-trial proceedings that he was motivated by a sense of ethical responsibility when he exposed U.S. war crimes and abuses, declaring, "I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information ... this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general."

The 25 year old—who was convicted guilty in late July of 20 counts—could face up to 90 years in jail, in addition to the over 900 days he has already served, which included solitary confinement.

Manning will speak during the sentencing phase of his trial to make a case that he deserves a compassionate sentence that allows him to serve time for the charges simultaneously, rather than consecutively.

Last week, Manning's defense saw small victories, as well as serious setbacks, when the judge cut his maximum sentence from 136 to 90 years yet slammed him with charges of committing federal computer fraud and violating the espionage act.

This week, his defense is calling up soldiers from Manning's Army unit, as well as his aunt, who will testify on his behalf.

Manning's backers from across the globe are continuing their campaign to support him, with solidarity actions planned throughout the week.

"In the time to come, it is going to be important that people write him letters and show support," declared Ryan Harvey, organizer with the Bradley Manning Support Network. "When a political prisoner is in jail, the support can be the only thing that keeps them looking forward to the next day of their life."

"We are in an era of whisteleblowers," Harvey added. "The way the government is making example out of Bradley, we also have to make an example out of him. We need to say that if you are leaking info on war crimes and government corruption, or other injustices, there will be a lot of people willing to support you. We are in a contested battle between people supporting Manning and government prosecutors."

To follow live updates from Manning's trial, see the below twitter feed.


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