Bradley Manning’s defence team is planning to ask United States President Barack Obama to pardon the soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

Shortly after Manning was sentenced, his attorney said he would ask the government for clemency.

Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, said on Wednesday he would file a request early next week with the Department of the Army with the hope of making its way to the president, asking him either to pardon Manning or commute his sentence to time served.

“The time for the president to protect whistleblowers rather than punishing them is now. The time for the president to pardon Manning is now,” Coombs said at a news conference.

“I only wanted to help people. If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society,” Manning, 25, said in a statement issued by his attorney.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a briefing that if Manning sought a presidential pardon, his request would be considered and processed like any other application for clemency.

“There’s a process for pardon applications or clemency applications, I believe they’re called. I’m not going to get ahead of that process. If there is an application that’s filed by Mr Manning or his attorneys, that application will be considered in that process like any other application,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

Manning, 25, was convicted last month of multiple charges including violations of the Espionage Act for copying and disseminating the documents while serving as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq.

He faced up to 90 years of imprisonment. However, he was acquitted of the most serious charge — “aiding the enemy”.

The files that he shared with WikiLeaks were posted on its website, revealing to the world some of the top secrets of the US Government, causing embarrassment to the Obama Administration.

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