Whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced today to 35 years in prison for leaking classified U.S. documents to the website WikiLeaks.
The U.S. government had campaigned hard to lock Manning up for 60 years.
The judge in the case, Col. Denise Lind, ruled that Manning would be credited with the staggering 1,294 days that he spent in jail before finally being placed on trial, notes The Guardian.
Manning was credited an additional 112 days, dishonorably discharged, reduced to private from private first class and forced to give up all of his U.S. military pay and benefits.
Reports say that Manning will have to serve at least a third of his sentence, 11 years and 6 months, before being eligible for parole, although others say he could get out earlier.
WikiLeaks tweeted on Twitter: "Significant strategic victory in Bradley Manning case. Bradley Manning now eligible for release in less than 9 years, 4.4 in one calculation."
Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who was the chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, wrote on Twitter that Manning will “likely serve about 8 to 8.5 yrs more in confinement and be out by the time he’s 33 or 34.”
Manning can appeal the verdict in the Army Court of Criminal Appeal within six months. His sentence was condemned by several human rights groups.
"Instead of fighting tooth and nail to lock him up for decades, the U.S. government should turn its attention to investigating and delivering justice for the serious human rights abuses committed by its officials in the name of countering terror,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union added: “When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system."
One of the files that Manning leaked was a video entitled "Collateral Murder," which shows a U.S. helicopter attack that killed several reporters from Reuters. The U.S. soldiers who killed the reporters in Iraq were never charged or placed on trial.