Colonel Denise Lind on Tuesday granted in part a defense motion [press release] to merge Pfc. Manning's convictions for sentencing purposes, reducing the possible maximum sentence from 136 to 90 years. Manning was convicted [JURIST report] of 20 counts of espionage, theft, and fraud last week for releasing military documents to Wikileaks. Linde combined [RT report] 16 of the 20 counts based on the relationship of the acts [text, PDF]. Lind grouped the conviction of theft of Iraq War logs with wrongfully storing classified information, and further grouped Manning's theft of Iraq War logs, Afghan War logs and the Guantanamo files with the respective Espionage Act convictions.The maximum sentence he faces is now 90 years, a slight increase over the defense's request for a maximum of 85. The military proceedings are expected to continue for several more days before a final sentence is handed down. Meanwhile, an online petition [text] in support of Manning has garnered 2,500 volunteers to serve part of his sentence. 3,000 signatures are required before the court must acknowledge it. Others have started peaceful demonstrations [advocacy website] calling on General Buchanan, the court official who will review Lind's sentence, to free Manning.
Manning's case has sparked controversy across the globe since his arrest in 2010 [JURIST news archive]. There have been several issues raised regarding the burden of proof required to convict Manning of aiding the enemy, as well as arguments for greater transparency [JURIST reports] into military proceedings. Likewise, issues circulated around the use of force being excessive. It was eventually ruled illegal [JURIST report], and Lind agreed to grant Manning time served for the 112 days he was left in solitary confinement at Quantico Marine Base.