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Bradley Manning maximum sentence reduced to possible 90 years in prison

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U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning’s maximum prison sentence of 136 years was reduced to a maximum sentence of 90 years behind bars.

Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, announced Manning’s reduced sentence during a closed session at Ft. Meade, Md., on Tuesday. Lind agreed in part to a motion proposed by the defense to merge various charges against Manning.

“She merged two Espionage specifications for transmission of the Iraq and Afghan SigActs, the theft and transmission of the Guantanamo Bay Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), and the theft and fraudulent downloading of the State Dept. cables and GTMO DABs,” Nathan Fuller, a writer for the Bradley Manning Support Network, reports.

Manning released over 700,000 classified diplomatic and military documents to WikiLeaks in 2009, which published the material in 2010.

The 25-year old Army private was acquitted last week of the charge for aiding the enemy, the most serious of the charges that Manning faced.

He faced 22 charges, including several violations of the Espionage Act of 1917.

A major criticism of Manning was that the documents he leaked to WikiLeaks put the lives of U.S. forces and American allies at risk.

However, during the trial, a senior U.S. counter-intelligence officer admitted that the U.S. military did not uncover a specific example of loss of life that could be attributed to WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents.

“I don’t have a specific example,” said Brigadier General Robert Carr, head of the Information Review Task Force, which investigated the impact of the leak.

The decision to acquit Manning of the aiding the enemy charge brought relief to many in the information activist community who believed that a guilty verdict would have a chilling effect on whistle-blowers and online journalism.

Amnesty International credited WikiLeaks and its various media partners in May 2011 for their role in catalyzing the “Arab spring” by vetting and publishing the documents provided by Manning.

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