A senior State Department official testified that the release of over 250,000 diplomatic cables by army intelligence officer Bradley Manning to Wikileaks had, and continues to have, a “chilling effect” on U.S. foreign policy and that that was “a risk to national security”.

While numerous witnesses will continue to appear at the sentencing hearing over the coming weeks, presiding judge Denise Lind on Tuesday agreed to merge some of the prosecution’s charges, effectively bringing down the maximum sentence from 136 to 90 years.

On Monday, U.S. Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy argued that the revelations disrupted U.S. relations with foreign governments and endangered the lives of informants.

However, in earlier remarks to U.S. Congress, Mr. Kennedy was said to have “agreed with comments from Defence Secretary Robert Gates, State Secretary Hillary Clinton, and State Department official Alex Ross downplaying the harm caused”.