Sergeant Alexander Blackman, better known as Marine A, has spoken out for the first time since his release from prison, saying that his “wife in a million” saved him.
“I will be eternally grateful to Claire and I cannot put into words how wonderful she is,” he told the Daily Mail.
“She is a wife in a million. Other inmates often said how lucky I was to have her fighting so hard for me.
“I don’t think there is anybody who has witnessed the effort she has gone to who will doubt how she feels about me, and that’s beyond words really.
“You just can’t imagine anyone cares for you that much.”
It is rumoured that the couple, who will not be changing his identity or appearance, in spite of terror risks, will be played by Tom Hardy and Kate Winslett in a big screen adaptation of their story, with Holywood legend Al Pacino taking up a role as their lawyer.
Sgt Blackman, a Royal Marines Commando who served his country with distinction for 15 years in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Northern Ireland, was sentenced to ten years in prison by a court-martial for shooting an already mortally wounded terrorist fighter.
Many people considered Sgt Blackman as guilty of no more than a simple a battlefield coup de grâce, and there was widespread public outrage over the sentence. A public petition to free him was signed by over 100,00 people.
The Ministry of Defence had to issue orders commanding serving soldiers not to attend events supporting Sgt Blackman. Many senior officers toed the official line rather than risk controversy, however, causing 45 Commando Commanding Officer Oliver Lee OBE to tender his resignation, citing their “failure of moral courage”.
It later emerged that the military establishment had suppressed evidence of what Colonel Lee described as “serious breakdown” of the “sacrosanct relationship between command and commanded” while Sgt Blackman was on duty in Afghanistan.
Left in an undermanned, roofless, insecure compound in blistering heat, with no running water or electricity, the marine was subjected to constant patrols, encountering an improvised explosive device roughly every sixteen hours during the sixth-month tour. Sgt Blackman also lead a mission to find a missing Scottish soldier during the tour, who was found to have been tortured to death when he was discovered.
It is these appalling conditions which are the Ministry of Defence now accepts as having eroded the mental health of an otherwise “superb” marine, who was visited by his commanding officer only twice during the tour.
It was the emergence of these details which resulted in Sgt Blackman’s conviction being reduced to manslaughter with diminished responsibility, along with a sentence reduction which allowed his release.