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21 Aug, 2013 15:25

Manning's sentence unjustifiably harsh, crimes he exposed remain unpunished - Moscow

Manning's sentence unjustifiably harsh, crimes he exposed remain unpunished - Moscow

Moscow has slammed the “harsh” sentence for US Army Private Bradley Manning, saying it was apparently meant to scare away other whistleblowers, and was not in accordance with human rights standards.

When the USA’s interests are at stake, the American judicial system, as in the case of Bradley Manning, takes unjustifiably harsh decisions based on the principle of 'let’s teach them so that it doesn’t become a habit' – and without any glance at the human rights aspects,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov told reporters on Wednesday. 

A US military judge on Wednesday sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison for handing over more than 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010. During the hearings Manning said he hoped his revelations would “help people.”

Calling Manning’s case an example of US “double standards in regard with the supremacy of law and human rights,” Dolgov argued it showed that America’s claims for leadership in those respects are “groundless.”

The Foreign Ministry official then cited international human rights groups – including those in based in the US – who believe Manning has revealed “widespread abuses on the part of the US Army during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the deaths of civilian, the torture of prisoners, as well as the other grave abuses of the international human rights law. ” 

Despite all the efforts of rights groups and the UN Human Rights Council, no one in the US was held accountable for these crimes, Dolgov added.

The 25-year-old Manning will have to serve at least a third of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. He has already spent 1,294 days in pretrial confinement, following his arrest in Iraq, and was also dishonorably discharged, saw his rank reduced to private and forced to forfeit all pay and benefits. 

The charges Manning was convicted of include espionage, theft and violating computer regulations. He was found not guilty of the most serious charge – aiding the enemy – which entailed a potential sentence of life without the possibility of parole.