Prosecutors recommend 60-year sentence for Bradley Manning

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., July 30, 2013.
AP Photo

Updated 5:01 PM ET

FORT MEADE, Md. Prosecutors are asking a military judge to sentence Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 60 years in prison.

Capt. Joe Morrow made the recommendation during closing arguments Monday in the sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial. Morrow says the soldier was convicted of serious crimes and deserves to spend the majority of his life in prison.

Manning faced up to 90 years for his convictions on 20 counts, including six violations of the Espionage Act. Morrow did not say why prosecutors were only seeking 60 years.

Also, defense attorney David Coombs made his closing argument Monday. He didn't recommend a specific sentence but suggested any prison term shouldn't exceed 25 years. He says the classification of some of the documents Manning leaked expires in 25 years.

Coombs says the military failed Manning when a supervisor didn't report to commanders his concerns about Manning's mental health.

Coombs says Manning took the first step toward rehabilitation when he offered to serve up to 20 years in February.

Manning's attorneys have presented witnesses who said he was under great stress, due largely to his gender identity confusion in the "don't ask, don't tell" era.

The judge said she will begin deliberating the punishment Tuesday.

In a statement last week, Manning apologized for hurting his country, pleading with a military judge for a chance to go to college and become a productive citizen.

"I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that they hurt the United States," he said.

The soldier said that he understood what he was doing but that he did not believe at the time that leaking a mountain of classified information to the anti-secrecy website would cause harm to the U.S.

Speaking quickly but deliberately, Manning took only a few minutes to make his statement Wednesday. He appeared to be reading it from papers he was holding and looked up a number of times to make eye contact with the judge. It was an unsworn statement, meaning he could not be cross-examined by prosecutors.

He said he realizes now that he should have worked more aggressively "inside the system" to draw attention to his concerns about the way the war was being waged. He said he wants to get a college degree, and he asked for a chance to become a more productive member of society.

His conciliatory tone was at odds with the statement he gave in court in February, when he condemned the actions of U.S. soldiers overseas and what he called the military's "bloodlust."