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Clemency Denied: General Upholds Manning's 35-Year Sentence

"We cannot prosecute people who tell us what our government is doing," said Manning defense lawyer

Photo: Vertigogen/cc/flickr

Photo: Vertigogen/cc/flickr

A general has approved the 35-year prison sentence a military judge handed down to Chelsea Manning for releasing a trove of government and military documents to WikiLeaks, the U.S. Army said Monday.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan's approval of a judge's sentence and findings "means that no clemency was granted in the case," according to a media statement released by the Army.

Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, convicted Manning of 20 charges including espionage in July, and issued the 35-year sentence in August.

Buchanan's decision means the whistleblower's case now automatically heads to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

According to reporting by Kevin Gosztola,

Manning’s appeal will focus on the misuse of the Espionage Act, over-classification, selective prosecution of leaks by the government, “unlawful pretrial punishment” and speedy trial rights violations in the case.

That process, Gosztola continues,

could take over a decade, as the case goes through two appellate courts, potentially the Supreme Court and then maybe to another court as a habeas case.

"We have a very long road to go and an uphill battle. This appeal will take a long time," Manning defense lawyer Nancy Hollander said Sunday. "We will stay with this case until there are no more courts and nowhere else to go on behalf of Chelsea."

Manning has been denied hormone therapy for treatment of her gender dysphoria, a fact that raises "serious constitutional concerns," the ACLU has said, as the government must provide necessary care to those it is holding.

This month marks the four year anniversary of WikiLeaks' release of the Collateral Murder video — one of the documents disclosed by Manning. It shows a 2007 unprovoked attack in Baghdad by a U.S. helicopter. The helicopter fired at civilians including Reuters staff and rescuers, and wounded children. In the video one man is heard saying, "Ha ha. I hit 'em."

Describing the video, Manning said:

The most alarming aspect of the video to me…was the seemly delightful bloodlust the Aerial Weapons Team seemed to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as quote-unquote “dead bastards,” and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

As for Manning's espionage conviction, Hollander said, "It has to stop if we're to have any freedom of speech."

"We cannot prosecute people who tell us what our government is doing."


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