A military judge today reduced the potential sentence for an Army private accused of sending reams of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. At a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade for Bradley Manning, the judge found that Manning suffered illegal pretrial punishment during nine months in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. She awarded a total of 112 days off any prison sentence Manning gets if he is convicted. It may not mean much: Manning faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum of life behind bars. His trial begins March 6.
Manning was confined to a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing. Brig officials say it was to keep him from hurting himself or others, but the judge said Manning's confinement was "more rigorous than necessary." She added that the conditions "became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests." The 25-year-old intelligence analyst sought to have the charges against him thrown out, arguing that the military held him in unduly punishing pretrial conditions after his 2010 arrest. (Read more Bradley Manning stories.)