An American soldier was sentenced to 19 years in prison for attempted espionage and related charges on Monday, giving activists renewed hope that US President Barack Obama will commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to the 27 and a half years he has served.

Army Specialist William Colton Millay, 24, was sentenced late on Monday after a military hearing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, where he was stationed when he was arrested in October 2011. Federal officials said Millay
admitted to trying to pass on classified information to someone he believed was a Russian agent.

The native of Owensboro, Kentucky, pleaded guilty in March to attempted espionage, failing to obey regulations, issuing a false statement, soliciting another to commit espionage and communicating national defense information.

Although he was sentenced to 19 years in prison, he will serve 16 years under a plea agreement, with time served in pre-trial confinement taken into account, federal officials said. He was also demoted to private and will receive a dishonorable discharge, federal officials said.

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