Military Judge Col. Denise Lind ruled Tuesday to reduce the potential sentence of Bradley Manning, an Army private accused of releasing classified documents to the infamous WikiLeaks website. Lind's ruling stems from her belief that Manning was subjected to "illegal pretrial punishment" during his nine months of confinement. She called Manning's treatment -- which consisted of solitary confinement in a windowless cell, often without clothing, for 23 hours a day -- "excessive." The 25-year-old is to face 22 charges when his trial begins March 6th. Due to Tuesday's ruling, if he is given a prison sentence he will receive 112 days off of whatever it is.
"Army Col. Denise Lind ruled during a pretrial hearing that authorities went too far in their strict confinement of Pfc. Bradley Manning for nine months in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., in 2010 and 2011. Manning was confined to a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing. Brig officials said it was to keep him from hurting himself or others."
"Lind said Manning's confinement was "more rigorous than necessary." She added that the conditions "became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests."'
"Manning faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of life behind bars. His trial begins March 6."
"The 25-year-old intelligence analyst had sought to have the charges thrown out, arguing the conditions were egregious. Military prosecutors had recommended a seven-day sentence reduction, conceding Manning was improperly kept for that length of time on highly restrictive suicide watch, contrary to a psychiatrist's recommendation."
Manning supporters were disappointed with today's ruling. "I don't find it a victory," supporter Mike McKee said. "Credit like that becomes much less valuable if the sentence turns out to be 80 years." McKee was one of about a dozen supporters who were present in the courtroom for Tuesday's ruling.
The scheduled four-day hearing is, in part, to determine if Manning's motivation matters in the case. The prosecution seeks to block the defense from presenting evidence of motive calling it "irrelevent." The defense claims barring such evidence would cripple the defense's ability to argue that Manning leaked only information that he believed couldn't hurt the United States or help a foreign nation.
RT.com discusses the ruling.
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