July 31, 2013

Defense seeks merger of some Manning verdicts

If the judge agrees to merge the counts, it would mean the former intelligence analyst faces up to 116 years in prison instead of 136 years.

By David Dishneau / The Associated Press

FORT MEADE, Md. — Lawyers for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning are seeking to reduce his potential sentence by having some of his convictions merged.

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In this July 30, 2013 photo, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md.

AP

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The motions were revealed as the sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial began Wednesday at Fort Meade, near Baltimore. The sentencing hearing is scheduled through Aug. 23.

The motions seek to merge two of the six espionage counts and two of the five theft counts of which Manning was convicted Tuesday. All of the counts involve Manning's leak of Afghanistan and Iraq battlefield reports.

If the judge agrees to merge the counts, it would mean Manning faces up to 116 years in prison instead of 136 years.

The 470,000 reports were contained in two separate databases but contained similar material.

The former intelligence analyst was convicted on Tuesday of 20 of 22 charges for sending hundreds of thousands of government and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks, but he was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, which alone could have meant life in prison without parole.

The judge prohibited both sides from presenting evidence during trial about any actual damage the leaks caused to national security and troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, but lawyers will be allowed to bring that up at sentencing.

The release of diplomatic cables, warzone logs and videos embarrassed the U.S. and its allies. U.S. officials warned of dire consequences in the days immediately after the first disclosures in July 2010, but a Pentagon review later suggested those fears might have been overblown.

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