Bradley Manning's fight not over - lawyer

David Coombs, defence attorney for Pte Bradley Manning. Photo: 31 August 2013 Image copyright AP
Image caption David Coombs wants President Obama to grant his client a pardon

Bradley Manning's lawyer David Coombs says when he saw his client after he'd been sentenced to 35 years in prison the usual roles were reversed - he was crying and the prisoner was trying to comfort him.

For Mr Coombs, the fight isn't over. He's calling on President Barack Obama to grant his client a pardon.

But he can't have too high hopes. Mr Coombs says this president has been in charge of an unprecedented crackdown on leakers.

He says that there is "a cancer of over-classification" - he means that in the US documents are often labelled secret when it would be merely embarrassing, not dangerous, if they became public.

It is one way for the authorities to get around freedom of information laws.

I asked him what was at stake. "How history will look at us," he replied, adding that the public couldn't be guardians of the government unless they knew what the government was doing.

His advice for Edward Snowden? He didn't quite say "stay in Russia", but he pointed out the climate was harsh for leakers.

Yet another revelation about the extent of improper behaviour by the National Security Agency might make Mr Snowden's a much harder case for the authorities than Pte Manning's.

It was the soldier's release of gossipy diplomatic cables that caught the journalistic imagination. But in all the thousands of documents there were few, shocking, bang-to-rights revelations of wrongdoing.

Mr Snowden, on the other hand, has revealed a process that has shocked some of America's allies and alarmed politicians and the public back home.

A 35-year stretch, even if Pte Manning is eligible for parole in seven years, may be enough to put off any would-be whistle-blower.

But the US administration will not rest easy with its secrets, thinking there might be another Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden out there.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites