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Manning's lawyer: He should not 'rot in jail'

By Paul Courson, CNN
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Thu August 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prosecution calls Manning a "determined insider" in largest leak of classified information
  • Asks judge to send a message to other would-be leakers with prolonged prison sentence
  • Defense says Manning is an excellent case for rehabilitation; He faces up to 90 years behind bars

Fort Meade, Maryland (CNN) -- A military prosecutor said Bradley Manning acted as a "determined insider" in leaking classified information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and should be locked up for 60 years at least, but the Army private's lawyer contended he can be rehabilitated and should not "rot in jail."

The two sides delivered their final sentencing arguments to Col. Denise Lind, the judge who convicted Manning at trial and will now determine his punishment.

He faces up to 90 years behind bars for the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history.

"There may not be a soldier in the history of the Army who displayed such an extreme disregard" for his mission as a soldier, Capt. Joe Morrow, the prosecutor, said.

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His arrogance, according Morrow, meant he "felt he alone was knowledgeable and intelligent enough to determine what information was to be classified."

Morrow asked that Manning, 25, serve a minimum sentence of six decades behind bars, saying his actions created grave risk, disrupted diplomatic missions and endangered lives.

Defense attorney David Coombs did not ask for a specific sentence, but said his client was an excellent candidate for rehabilitation, and that he should not be left to "rot in jail."

"Perhaps his biggest crime was that he cared about the loss of life that he was seeing and couldn't ignore it." Coombs said of Manning's decision to turn over the explosive information to WikiLeaks.

"This is a young man capable of being redeemed," Coombs said in final remarks. "The defense requests, after the court considers all the facts, a sentence that allows him to have a life."

Lind recessed the proceedings until Tuesday morning but it is not clear when she will render a decision.

Manning was convicted of numerous counts in July, including espionage-related charges. He avoided a potential life sentence when Lind rejected charges that his actions aided the enemy.

In addition to prison, prosecutors also want Manning to forfeit pay and benefits and pay a $100,000 fine.

Officials indicated a single sentence would cover all of the guilty counts.

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