FT. MEADE, Md. — Military prosecutors in the court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning asked the judge Monday to sentence him to at least 60 years in prison, arguing that his illegal leaks of classified data severely damaged U.S. secret intelligence operations and made a mockery of the nation's diplomatic missions around the world.

“There may be no soldier in the history of the Army who displayed such an extreme disregard,” Army Capt. Joe Morrow said of the 25-year-old former junior intelligence analyst in Iraq. “At least 60 years is justified. Pfc. Manning is young. He deserves to spend the majority of his remaining life in prison.”

The defense lawyers are to follow this afternoon with their closing arguments in the trial.

The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, said she would begin considering the proper sentence at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The maximum she could give him is 90 years, without the ability to apply for parole or clemency until he has served a third of his prison term.

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The trial here began on June 3. Military prosecutors sought to portray him as an arm of Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist groups that capitalized on 700,000-plus confidential diplomatic cables, war logs and terror detainee assessments that Manning provided to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

A conviction on that charge could have brought Manning a sentence of life in prison. But the judge acquitted him of aiding the enemy.

His defense team characterized him as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor, and said he simply wanted the American public and the world to see the classified material as evidence of false statements in how the United States was waging war and carrying out international diplomacy.

The judge convicted him on many of those charges, including six counts of violating the Espionage Act.

Last seek, near the close of testimony in the case, Manning read a three-minute non-sworn statement to the judge. He acknowledged his criminal activity, apologized that he “hurt” people and the United States, and asked the judge to give him a sentence that would allow him someday to be paroled to "better myself."

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richard.serrano@latimes.com