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Russian FM says US court ruling on Manning “unjustifiably harsh”

August 21, 2013, 22:55 UTC+3

The White House said President Barack Obama would consider Manning’s appeal for pardon if he files it

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MOSCOW, August 21 (Itar-Tass) - The U.S. court handed down an “unjustifiably harsh” verdict in the case of Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to the website WikiLeaks, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law Konstantin Dolgov said.

Apart from the essence of the serious charges brought against Manning and the degree of his real guilt before the American state, some of the aspects relating to the verdict appear to be striking, he said on Wednesday, August 21.

“According to many human rights organisations, including American ones, the information disclosed by Manning exposed numerous abuses by the U.S. Army during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the death of civilians, torture of prisoners and other gross violations of international human rights legislation,” Dolgov said.

He noted that “despite energetic demands by international human rights control mechanisms, specifically special procedures of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and the human rights community, no one in the U.S. has been punished for these offences.”

“American officials can often be heard criticising certain court judgments made in other countries with regard to alleged infringements upon the freedom of speech, assembly and other civil rights. However when the interests of the United States itself are at stake, the American judicial system, as in the case of Manning, makes unjustifiably harsh decisions in order to teach others not to do the same, without any regard for human rights aspects,” Dolgov said.

He believes that this position indicates the use of “double standards.” “Such manifestation of double standards with regard to the supremacy of law and human rights once again shows that the U.S. claims to ‘leadership’ in these important spheres are groundless,” Dolgov said.

Earlier in the day, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was initially charged with 22 offenses, including communicating national defence information to an unauthorised source and aiding the enemy. He was convicted in July 2013 of most of the charges, including several violations of the Espionage Act, but was acquitted of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge. Manning will be dishonourably discharged. He will be eligible for parole after serving one third of his sentence.

The White House said President Barack Obama would consider Manning’s appeal for pardon if he files it.

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