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WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Calls Bradley Manning Jail Term 'A Tactical Victory' (VIDEO)

21/08/2013 19:09 BST | Updated 21/08/2013 22:01 BST

Julian Assange has spoken out following the sentencing of Bradley Manning, the American army private who disclosed more than 700,000 confidential documents to Assange's site WikiLeaks.

After the soldier was sentenced to 35 years in prison, with eligibility for parole in around 10 years, Assange released a statement calling the sentence a "tactical victory".

julian assange

Julian Assange claims the sentence was a "tactical victory"

The sentencing ends three years of speculation over the fate of Manning, who for many has become a heroic figure and a symbol of truth and transparency against the clandestine misdeeds of the American administration during the Iraq War.

Assange, who has been living inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over a year to avoid deportation to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sex charges, said it was important support for Manning continued and predicted there will be "1,000 more Bradley Mannings".

Assange said: "This hard-won minimum term represents a significant tactical victory for Bradley Manning's defence, campaign team and supporters.

"At the start of these proceedings, the United States government had charged Bradley Manning with a capital offence and other charges carrying over 135 years of incarceration. His defence team is now appealing to the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals in relation to this sentence and also for due process violations during the trial.

"While the defence should be proud of their tactical victory, it should be remembered that Mr Manning's trial and conviction is an affront to basic concepts of Western justice. On Mr Manning's arrest in May 2010, he was immediately subjected to punitive incarceration by the US government, which was found to be 'cruel, inhumane and degrading' by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, and even found to be unlawful by US military courts."

Assange added that he believed Manning would serve less than 10 years in confinement, adding it was important that support for the soldier continued while efforts were made to reduce the sentence on appeal.

"The only just outcome in Mr Manning's case is his unconditional release, compensation for the unlawful treatment he has undergone, and a serious commitment to investigating the wrongdoing his alleged disclosures have brought to light.

"Mr Manning's treatment has been intended to send a signal to people of conscience in the US government who might seek to bring wrongdoing to light.

"This strategy has spectacularly backfired, as recent months have proven. Instead, the Obama administration is demonstrating that there is no place in its system for people of conscience and principle. As a result, there will be a thousand more Bradley Mannings."

Manning's mother and other relatives in West Wales, where the US soldier spent his teenage years, listened with dismay to the sentence. Following the verdict, Manning's uncle, Kevin Fox, said he had mixed feelings about his nephew's sentencing.

There were also similar messages of support in Manning's adoptive homeland of Wales - where he spent four of his teenage years living with his mother in Pembrokeshire and also attended Tasker Milward school in Haverfordwest.

School friend James Kirkpatrick previously said: "I felt proud of him really, whistleblowing against such controversies, it's quite a heroic thing, I was shocked but really impressed by him as well."

And Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins described today as a sad day for democracy.

"Bradley Manning was seeking to uncover the truth about US Government operations and provided the public with vital information about what is carried out in their name," she added.

"Yet he is the one that has been prosecuted and has been kept in solitary confinement and his human rights violated.

"I am hoping that AMs of all parties will join with me in signing an open letter to President Obama condemning this decision.

"Whistleblowers like Manning and (Edward) Snowden are afforded no protection despite releasing vital information to the public."