An Army general has upheld Pvt. Chelsea Manning's conviction and 35-year prison sentence for giving reams of classified U.S. government information to the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks, the Army said Monday.
The approval by Maj. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan, commander of the Military District of Washington, clears the way for an automatic appeal to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
Manning's appellate lawyers, Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward, told supporters Sunday in Washington that they expect to argue that the sentence is unreasonable. It is the longest prison term ever given by a U.S. court for leaking government secrets to the media. They said they also expect to argue that Manning's speedy-trial rights were violated, that the Espionage Act was misused, and that high-ranking commanders improperly influenced her case.
The 26-year-old Crescent, Okla., native is serving her sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She was sentenced in August for six Espionage Act violations and 14 other offenses for leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents, plus battlefield video, while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.
Buchanan, as commander of the jurisdiction in which the trial was held, could have thrown out or reduced the court-martial results. He approved the findings Friday, the Military District of Washington said.
Emma Cape, campaign organizer for the Chelsea Manning Support Network, said Buchanan "has ignored the many grave injustices in this case."
She also called for protests of the Obama administration's refusal to consider Manning's request for presidential clemency until after the appeals are exhausted, which could take years.