The lead attorney for Army Private Bradley Manning told the media on Wednesday that as early as next week he will ask US President Barack Obama to pardon his client.
Three hours after a military judge sentenced PVT Manning to 35
years in prison for disclosing sensitive government documents,
attorney David Coombs said the appeals process will begin in a
matter of days.
“I will file a request,” Coombs said in a
Wednesday afternoon presser, “a request
that the president pardon [former] PFC. Manning, or at the very
least commute his sentence to time served.”
That request, Coombs said, includes in part a statement from
“I understand that my actions violated the law,” Coombs
read the soldier’s statement. “I regret that my actions hurt
or harmed the US. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only
wanted to help people.”
Manning and his counsel will ask the White House to remove the 35-year sentence handed down early Wednesday by Army Col. Denise Lind at a courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland. Should that request be refused, however, Manning wrote, “I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price for living in a free society.”
The solder also said in his statement that he chose to disclose
classified material to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks “out of
a concern for my country and the world that we live in.”
Manning was convicted last month on charges of espionage, theft
and computer fraud for sharing diplomatic State Department
cables, field reports from the Iraq and Afghan wars and other
sensitive material. In all, Manning shared hundreds of thousands
The disclosures made by Manning began shortly after he deployed
to Iraq in late 2009, where he was assigned to serve as an
intelligence analyst at a post outside of Baghdad. In the
statement read by his attorney on Wednesday,
Manning wrote, “It was not until I was in Iraq and reading
secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to
question the morality of what we were doing.”
Quoting late historian Howard Zinn, Manning added, “There is
not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent
“Whenever we kill innocent civilians,” Manning wrote in
his own words, “...we elect to hind behind the veil of
national security and classified information in order to avoid
any public accountability.”
Should the pardon request be dismissed by the White House, Coombs said his client can go before a clemency board in as soon as three years. According to Coombs, parole will become a possibility after seven years of confinement, and Manning will be eligible to plead his case every year after.
Col. Lind credited Manning with roughly three-and-a-half years
for time already served and the conditions he endured during that
confinement. That block of time will be taken off the 35-year
sentence. Manning was also demoted from Private First Class to
Government prosecutors asked Lind to hand out a sentence of no
fewer than 60 years, and the soldier faced a maximum of 90.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Coombs said the prosecution
previously offered Manning a deal that would have confined him
for longer than what Lind elected to dish out, but it would have
required the soldier to testify on the stand.
“There were early discussion on a pretrial agreement that were
far worse than his outcome here today,” Coombs said. “They
were offering a sentence that exceeded what he received today.
and part of that would be to cooperate and testify.”
Coombs said Manning is likely on his way already to a facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he will be entered into general population in roughly a month.