Both a left-wing and a pro-government columnist fear that a harsh prison sentence for Private Manning, found guilty of espionage and other charges could undermine democracy and press freedom.
It is good news that Bradley Manning has been acquitted of aiding the enemy, but it is worrying, nonetheless, that he was found guilty of espionage, Népszabadság writes in a front page editorial. The left-wing daily points out that if Private Manning had been convicted of the most serious charge brought against him, anyone publishing secret documents could face similar charges. Népszabadság, however, believes that if Manning is sentenced to more than 100 years in prison this will still deter whistleblowers from unveiling governmental abuses in future. Although national security is a valid concern, without leaks including the Watergate scandal and the Pentagon papers, press freedom is meaningless, Népszabadság suggests.
In Magyar Nemzet, Gábor László Zord maintains that Private Manning has clearly violated the law and harmed the interests of his country, and his conviction is inevitable. But his case also highlights the fact that the US is abandoning its democratic founding principles and is acting more and more like an empire, Zord contends. In such circumstances, only whistleblowers who risk prison by illegal acts can reveal the abuses of power, Zord remarks. He concludes by noting that we can only hope that Manning’s case will help the American public realize that their country is drifting away from its democratic principles.