Bradley Manning
Bradley ManningReuters

Bradley Manning is set to personally appeal to US President Barack Obama for a pardon, after he was sentenced to 35 years in jail for leaking 750,000 classified documents to the Wikileaks website.

Speaking at a press conference, Manning's lawyer David Coombs said his client, who will also be dishonourably discharged from the US Army and forfeit some of his wages, will appeal for a pardon "or at the very least commute his sentence to time served".

Manning will base his appeal on the fact that his actions were motivated "out of a love to my country and a sense of duty to others," he said.

Speaking to Britain's Guardian newspaper, which has itself been closely involved in the Wikileaks saga, Coombs described the scene after sentencing was handed down on Wednesday.

"Everyone in his defence team was emotional, including myself," he said. "The only person that wasn't emotional was Brad. He looked to us and said: 'It's OK. I'm going to move forward and I'm going to be all right'."

"The case of the United States v Bradley Manning is a watershed movement in history for the freedom of the press," he added.

Private First Class Bradley Manning was convicted of 20 out of the 22 charges against him, including violations of the US Espionage Act.

He was found guilty of downloading and leaking 400,000 Pentagon field reports from Iraq and 90,0000 similar documents from Afghanistan, as well as over 250,000 State Department cables.

But military judge Col. Denise Lind acquitted him of the most serious charge of "aiding the enemy," and decreased the maximum sentence he could potentially face from 136 years to 90 years.

The prosecution had been asking for 60 years, but Manning's statements of remorse and his apparently fragile emotional state at the time of his offense, due to a number of personal issues, appear to have resulted in a much more lenient sentence.

However many observers were still surprised at the harshness of the sentence - likely a deterrent to prevent other US military employees from following in his footsteps.

In a statement at a sentencing hearing last week, Manning apologized for his actions, saying that he realized that he had "hurt people and hurt the United States," but claimed that he hadn't meant to cause so much damage.

"I understood what I was doing was wrong but I didn't appreciate the broader effects of my actions," he insisted. 

Manning has always claimed that his decision to leak classified information was made in order to expose American "wrongdoing" and provoke a public debate over US government policy and conduct.