Defense suggests no more than 25 years for Manning

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Associated Press

Posted on August 19, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 19 at 12:33 PM

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Pfc. Bradley Manning's lawyers are asking a military judge to balance rehabilitation and punishment before sentencing the soldier for giving classified information to WikiLeaks.

Defense attorney David Coombs made his closing argument Monday in Manning's court-martial. The judge says she'll start deliberating Tuesday.

Manning faces up to 90 years in prison, but prosecutors only asked the judge for 60 years.

Coombs didn't recommend a specific sentence but suggested any prison term shouldn't exceed 25 years. He says the classification of some of the documents Manning leaked expires in 25 years.

Coombs says the military failed Manning when a supervisor didn't report to commanders his concerns about Manning's mental health.

Coombs says Manning took the first step toward rehabilitation when he offered to serve up to 20 years in February.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning should spend the majority of his life in prison because he betrayed the U.S. by giving classified material to WikiLeaks, a prosecutor said Monday.

Manning faces up to 90 years in prison, but Capt. Joe Morrow only asked the judge to sentence him to 60 years. Morrow did not say during closing arguments of the court-martial's sentencing phase why prosecutors were not seeking the maximum punishment.

"He's been convicted of serious crimes," Morrow said. "He betrayed the U.S. and for that betrayal, he deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in confinement."

A military judge convicted Manning last month of 20 offenses, including six violations of the Espionage Act and five counts of stealing protected information.

Manning's defense attorney, David Coombs, will give his closing argument later Monday. The judge, Col. Denise Lind, said she will begin deliberating the punishment Tuesday, but did not say how long she would take.

The 25-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., leaked more than 700,000 documents, including Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables, while working in early 2010 as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. He also leaked video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed at least nine people, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Manning took the stand last week and apologized for hurting his country, pleading with a military judge for a chance to go to college and become a productive citizen.

Family members and a psychologist testified for the defense, saying the soldier felt extreme mental pressure in the military because of his gender-identity disorder during the "don't ask, don't tell" era.

Coombs presented evidence that Manning's unit needed intelligence analysts so badly that a supervisor failed to report to commanders his concerns about Manning's deteriorating mental health. Such a report could have prevented Manning from being deployed or resulted in his top-secret security clearance being revoked.

Morrow said there were other people in Manning's unit who were openly gay and Manning did not hide his sexuality from them.

"It wasn't the military's fault, it wasn't the command's fault, it wasn't because he saw something horrible — it was because he had an agenda," Morrow said.

Prosecutors have called Manning an anarchist computer hacker and attention-seeking traitor. The soldier's supporters have hailed Manning as a whistleblower.

Prosecutors also asked the judge to fine Manning $100,000, reduce his rank to private and give him a dishonorable discharge.

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