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Ron Paul: Snowden, Manning 'should be treated as heroes'

 Paul, who conducted an "Ask Me Anything" session Thursday on the social news site Reddit, is perhaps best known as the perennial presidential hopeful who has advocated for a deregulated free market economy and drastic cuts in US foreign aid. He recently launched the Ron Paul Channel, an online news network that will air three 30-minute shows each week.  

Paul has made headlines over the past 24 hours for asserting that Manning – who, as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, leaked 700,000 diplomatic cables, combat video, and battlefield reports in 2010 - should be freed immediately instead of serving the 35 year sentence handed down by a military court Wednesday. 

Manning, in a statement made public 24 hours after the sentence, announced that he identifies as a woman and would prefer to be referred to as 'Chelsea.' The 25-year-old has returned to Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas, where military officials say they will not adhere to his gender identity request. 

Most military personnel who are caught committing war crimes never receive any penalties,” Paul said in the Reddit question-and-answer session. “I think he should be released now, [and] that he has done us a great service by letting the people know the truth.” 

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