Just after Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday — and before Manning’s announcement of a gender transition earlier today — independent journalist Alexa O’Brien sat down with Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, for his first interview about the case. O’Brien was one of only a handful of journalists to cover the entire Manning trial and was the first to make transcripts of the proceedings publicly available.
We air the interview in a Democracy Now! exclusive. Coombs talks about the government’s use of classified evidence, Manning’s reaction to the sentence and how much of the court record was hidden from the public. "I can’t believe that was actually the sentence he received," Coombs tells O’Brien.
"Anyone who sat through the hearing and heard all the evidence, even in the closed sessions, there is not evidence there where you would think 35 years would be the appropriate sentence. I wonder now if there had actually been damaged or if he had really intended to harm the United States or wanted to obtain personal gain from selling classified information, just what the sentence would have been.
Because this was a person who had true intentions. He wanted to help America. He wanted to get people to think about what was going on in Iraq. He didn’t have an evil motive in what he did."