Bradley Manning`s defence tries to reduce his sentence

Manning faces up to 136 years in prison for the biggest leak of government secrets in US history.

Fort Meade (US): The sentencing for US soldier Bradley Manning has began, and a judge will decide whether he will spend the rest of his life in prison. For the first time, testimony is being allowed about the actual damage the leaks caused.

Manning faces up to 136 years in prison for the biggest leak of government secrets in US history. He admits giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy-site WikiLeaks. He says he did it to expose US military "bloodlust" and diplomatic deceitfulness, but he did not believe his actions would harm the country.

The 25-year-old has been called both a whistleblower and a traitor, and his case has been watched worldwide.

He didn`t testify during the trial, but he could take the stand during the sentencing phase.

The former intelligence analyst was convicted of 20 of 22 charges, but he was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, which alone could have meant life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors failed to prove Manning had "general evil intent."

His defence lawyers now have asked the military judge to merge two of his espionage convictions and two of his theft convictions. If the judge agrees, he would face up to 116 years in prison.

"We`re not celebrating," defence attorney David Coombs said. "Ultimately, his sentence is all that really matters."

Military prosecutors said they would call as many as 20 witnesses for the sentencing phase, including experts on counterintelligence, strategic planning and terrorism.

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 can bring that up at sentencing.

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Robert Carr testified yesterday the classified documents Manning disclosed fractured US military relationships with foreign governments and Afghan villagers.

Carr headed a Defence Department task force that assessed the fallout from the leaks. He said the material identified hundreds of Afghan villagers by name, causing some of them to stop helping US forces.


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