Bradley Manning seeks presidential pardon

Bradley Manning, in an undated photo

HAGERSTOWN, Maryland U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, who is now referring to himself as "Chelsea Manning," is seeking a presidential pardon for sending classified information to WikiLeaks, which he says he did "out of a love for my country and sense of duty to others," according to documents released Wednesday.

Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, sent the Petition for Pardon/Commutation of Sentence on Tuesday to President Barack Obama through the U.S. Justice Department, and to Army Secretary John M. McHugh.

The White House said last month that any Manning request for a presidential pardon would be considered like any other.

Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for disclosing the classified military and diplomatic information while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010.

It was the largest-volume leak of classified material in U.S. history. Manning got the longest sentence ever for disclosing U.S. government secrets to others for publication.

The Obama administration has cracked down on security breaches, charging seven people with leaking to the media. Only three were prosecuted under all previous presidents combined.

Manning signed the petition with his legal name, "Bradley Manning," not Chelsea. Coombs has said anything having to do with the pardon or court-martial would have to be in Bradley's name. Prison officials say Manning would have to get a legal name change to be known as Chelsea.

Manning has said he wants to live as a woman and receive hormone therapy for gender dysphoria - the sense that he is physically the wrong gender.

Manning wrote in the petition that he started questioning the morality of U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan while reading secret military reports daily in Iraq.

Manning acknowledged he broke the law, adding, "I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States."

At Manning's trial, government witnesses testified that some of the leaked information endangered information sources, forced ambassadors to be reassigned and were used as al-Qaida propaganda.

Coombs wrote in a cover letter to Manning's petition that none of Manning's disclosures caused any "real damage" to the United States and that the documents were not sensitive information meriting protection.

Documents submitted in support of Manning's petition include a letter from Amnesty International, which said the leaks exposed potential human rights violations.

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