(FORT MEADE, Md.) – More than three years after his arrest in Iraq, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning learned the price he'll pay for leaking an unprecedented volume of classified information to a once-obscure, anti-secrecy website.
The Oklahoma soldier was sentenced to 35 year in prison Wednesday.
Supporters stood outside holding posters that read "Free Bradley Manning."
They were assembled just hours before a military judge announced the sentence shortly after 9:00a.m.
Prosecutors wanted to sentence him to at least 60 years.
Manning's defense said he should spend no more than 25 years in prison.
The decision in a military courtroom at Fort Meade, near Baltimore, caps a 12-week trial and a much longer legal battle over the former intelligence analyst's intentions when he reached out to WikiLeaks.
Prosecutors portray Manning, now 25, as "the determined insider," an anarchist hacker and traitor who started working within weeks of his 2009 deployment to provide WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange with exactly what they wanted.
Manning and his defense team maintain he was an idealistic soldier with a pure motive - to expose brutal truths about America's military and diplomatic corps.
They say the gay soldier's gender-identity crisis in the "don't ask, don't tell" military reached a crescendo that caused him to act out.
"I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people," Manning said in a courtroom apology last week.
The leaked material included video of a U.S. helicopter attack that killed at least two civilians - a Reuters news photographer and his driver.