Private First Class Bradley Manning was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in military prison for passing thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks.
Prosecutors had asked for 60 years as a deterrent to others who might leak government secrets.
But the judge, Colonel Denise Lind, offered no explanation for her judgement according to Alexa O'Brien.
O'Brien is an independent journalist has been covering the Manning case since the beginning, and chronicling it on-line.
With time served, and good behavior, Manning could be eligible for parole in about 10 years.
Manning was shocked, according to his attorney David Coombs. But he remained in good spirits.
"It's an outrage," said Nathan Fuller, an activist with the Bradley Manning Support Network. "Crushing, really. And it sends a terrible message."
An appeal is automatic, unless Manning waives that right. His team will also petition for a Presidential pardon.