South West Wales

Bradley Manning: Welsh relatives react to 35-year prison sentence

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Media captionKevin Fox, from Haverfordwest, told BBC Wales his nephew was a 'hero'

Relatives of Bradley Manning - the US soldier sentenced to 35 years for handing government secrets to Wikileaks - have spoken for the first time.

Kevin Fox, from Haverfordwest, told BBC Wales his nephew's sentence was less than the family had expected.

Pte First Class Manning, 25, was convicted in July of 20 charges against him, including espionage.

Manning was born in the USA but went to school in west Wales for a time before returning to North America.

"It's less than I thought, so that's one good thing," Mr Fox said, who said relatives had been expecting a sentence of up to 60 years.

"I know there's an appeal coming up so hopefully it'll get reduced again... at least that was less than what they expected.

Image caption Manning reportedly had a difficult childhood in the US state of Oklahoma and in west Wales

"I know there's an appeal coming up so hopefully it will get reduced again.

"In my honest opinion, he shouldn't have been given any time at all... In my eyes he is a hero."

When asked how his nephew would react to his jail term, Mr Fox said: "I haven't seen him for a long time... people change."

Mr Fox is the brother of Manning's mother Susan, who still lives in Pembrokeshire.

She met and married Brian Manning, an American, while he served with the US Navy based in west Wales.

Manning, who is not believed to hold a British passport, was born in America and returned briefly to Wales when his parents split up.

In 2001 he attended Tasker Millward school in Haverfordwest, for three years from the age of 13 before returning to America.

Last week, he apologised for hurting the US and for "the unexpected results" of his actions.

Image caption Bradley Manning went to school in west Wales for a time before returning to North America

Although Manning has been sentenced to 35 years he could be eligible for parole in about 11 years.

Prosecutors had asked for a 60-year sentence in order to send a message to future potential leakers.

In the military courtroom in Fort Meade, Maryland, on Wednesday, Judge Col Denise Lind declared Manning would be demoted to private and dishonourably discharged from the US Army, and forfeit his pay.

While stationed in Iraq in 2010, the junior intelligence analyst passed hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, the pro-transparency group headed by Julian Assange.

Manning has said he leaked the secret files in the hope of sparking a public debate about US foreign policy and the military.