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Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years

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Wikileaks source Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. The 25 year-old former soldier divulged secret government documents to Wikileaks while serving in Iraq as an intelligence analyst. Supporters have called on President Obama to issue a pardon.

The 35 year sentence has been interpreted in some quarters as lenient, given the seriousness of the charges. Prosecutors were calling for a 60 year sentence to set an example to others planning to leak confidential documents. Part of the sentence will be commuted due to Manning's imprisonment and the harsh terms of his initial incarceration.

Manning's lawyer David Coombs said his client would become eligible for parole after serving seven years of his sentence, but called on the president to release him. "The time to end Brad's suffering is now," the lawyer said.

Coombs read a statement from Manning: "The decisions I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world we live in. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of love for our country and a sense of duty for others. If you deny my request for a pardon I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society."

The BBC spoke to Manning's Welsh uncle Kevin Fox. He said that the family had been bracing itself for a harsher sentence. "In my honest opinion, he shouldn't have been given any time at all," Fox said. "In my eyes he is a hero."

Obama is caught between respecting Manning's idealistic motives and appearing weak in his treatment of a soldier who many Americans regard as a traitor. Cynics may suggest that as Obama is no longer running for re-election, a pardon is not going to damage his voter support. Meanwhile, somewhere in Russia, Edward Snowden will have been following events closely, aware that the American justice system does not look kindly on whistleblowers.

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