The Awkward Relationship Between WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning

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Aug. 21 2013 1:50 PM

WikiLeaks Declares “Strategic Victory” After Manning Sentence

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FORT MEADE, MD - AUGUST 21: US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning is escorted by military police as he arrives for his sentencing at military court facility for the sentencing phase of his trial on August 21, 2013 in Fort Meade, Maryland.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

While not exactly celebratory, the following tweet seems to indicate that WikiLeaks at least feels today’s 35-year sentence for Pfc. Bradley Manning could have been a lot worse:

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Indeed, with three and a half years of time served, Manning will be eligible for parole in a little over eight years, when he’ll be 33. He could have been sentenced to up to 90 years in prison for charges that include violations of the Espionage Act.

While WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have certainly been outspoken in their support of Manning and have raised money (though that’s a complicated story) for his defense, the situation has always been a bit awkward given the fact that the organization has not explicitly acknowledged that Manning provided it with documents.

Even though Manning has now publicly admitted to providing files to WikiLeaks, Assange’s statement after the verdict was reached on July 30 still referred to his “alleged disclosures,” but he also somewhat awkwardly credited them for having “exposed war crimes, sparked revolutions, and induced democratic reform.”

Keeping sources anonymous is, after all, the whole point of WikiLeaks and the fate that awaited Manning after he began communicating with the “crazy white haired aussie” isn’t a great advertisement for future whistleblowers.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog.