WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange has described the sentencing of their source Bradley Manning to 35 years in a US prison as a “significant strategic victory”.
But Assange has renewed calls for Manning’s release, describing his conviction as “an affront to basic concepts of Western justice.”
Manning could apply for parole and be freed within a decade under a sentence that followed a court martial that laid bare the scale of the 25-year-old US soldier’s access to government information.
Assange and WikiLeaks saw victory in how soon Manning would be eligible for release.
“This hard-won minimum term represents a significant tactical victory for Bradley Manning’s defence, campaign team and supporters,” Assange said in a statement on Wednesday.
“At the start of these proceedings, the United States government had charged Bradley Manning with a capital offence and other charges carrying over 135 years of incarceration.
“His defence team is now appealing to the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals in relation to this sentence and also for due process violations during the trial.”
Assange said the only just outcome for Manning was his unconditional release, “compensation for the unlawful treatment he has undergone” and “a serious commitment to investigating the wrongdoing his alleged disclosures have brought to light”.
“Mr Manning’s treatment has been intended to send a signal to people of conscience in the US government who might seek to bring wrongdoing to light,” Assange said.
“This strategy has spectacularly backfired, as recent months have proven.
“Instead, the Obama administration is demonstrating that there is no place in its system for people of conscience and principle.
“As a result, there will be a thousand more Bradley Mannings.”
WikiLeaks shot to international prominence in 2010 when it began publishing hundreds of thousands of documents obtained by Manning, who was a junior intelligence analyst at a US base near Baghdad at the time.
Manning was convicted of espionage and other crimes last month, having earlier admitted being the source of the battlefield reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and confidential US diplomatic cables.
Assange has been stuck in Ecuador’s embassy in London for more than a year as he tries to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault.
The Australian has said the allegations are a pretext to get him sent to the United States to face trial there. – AAP