The Slatest

Bradley Manning Avoids Life Sentence, May Still Spend Life Behind Bars

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (2nd L) is escorted by military police as he leaves after the first day of closing arguments in his military trial July 25, 2013 Fort George G. Meade, Maryland

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Those lesser charges include: five counts of espionage, five counts of theft, a computer fraud charge and a handful of other military infractions, according to the Associated Press.

The verdict comes after an eight-week court-martial at Fort Meade in Maryland that saw the military prosecutors paint Manning as an anarchist hacker who betrayed his country by knowingly providing aid to al-Qaida because members of the terrorist group—like almost anyone else with an Internet connection—were able to access the once-secret material once WikiLeaks published the trove of documents online. Manning’s defense, meanwhile, argued that the 25-year-old was a young and naive whistle-blower who was “trying to ply his knowledge to hopefully save lives.”


While the aiding-the-enemy charge was the most severe (and controversial) charge that Manning faced—it could have brought with it a life sentence without the possibility of parole—he had already pleaded guilty to ten lesser charges that carry up to 20 years in prison, along with a dishonorable discharge. When the espionage and theft convictions are factored in, he is expected to spend a large chunk of time behind bars. We won’t know exactly how large until tomorrow morning’s sentencing, although by Mother Jones’ count, the Army private faces a possible sentence of more than 130 years.

Slate will have more on the verdict and what it means later.

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This post has been updated with additional information as it became available.