After his client was sentenced to 35 years in prison, defense attorney David Coombs indicated he will petition President Obama to pardon Bradley Manning. He described Manning as a whistleblower who tried to present necessary information to the American people — who Coombs called the ultimate oversight in the United States democracy. Coombs said Manning provided valuable insight into a secret realm most American citizens would otherwise never see. "Make no mistake about it," he said, "the cancer of over-classification is threatening the very fabric of our society." He described a "government-wide crackdown on whistleblowers," referencing the Obama administration's use of the Espionage Act to prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. "I think what's at stake is how history will look at us," said Coombs, referring to the United States, "and we haven't learned that yet."
"What's at stake is how history will look at us, and we haven't learned that yet."
Amnesty International also called on President Obama to commute Manning's sentence to time served. Widney Brown, the organization's Senior Director of International Law and Policy, said in a statement that Manning's "revelations included reports on battlefield detentions and previously unseen footage of journalists and other civilians being killed in US helicopter attacks, information which should always have been subject to public scrutiny" — while Army Colonel Lind, the military judge, barred any evidence that the leaks served the public interest. Said Brown, "Bradley Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of his motives for acting as he did, the treatment he endured in his early pre-trial detention, and the due process shortcomings during his trial."
Separately, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks released a statement reading in part, "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."