Manning acquitted of aiding the enemy

A military judge has acquitted former US intelligence analyst Bradley Manning of the most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy, but convicted him of espionage, theft and computer fraud charges for giving thousands of classified secrets to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.
Manning convicted of illegally releasing classified documents knowing they'd be accessible to enemy. Net photo
Manning convicted of illegally releasing classified documents knowing they'd be accessible to enemy. Net photo

A military judge has acquitted former US intelligence analyst Bradley Manning of the most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy, but convicted him of espionage, theft and computer fraud charges for giving thousands of classified secrets to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.

He faces a maximum sentence up to 136 years.

 

The judge on Tuesday deliberated for about 16 hours over three days before reaching her decision in a case that drew worldwide attention. Supporters hailed Manning as a whistleblower. The US government called him an anarchist computer hacker and attention-seeking traitor.

 

The WikiLeaks case is by far the most voluminous release of classified material in US history. Manning’s supporters included Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, who in the early 1970s spilled a secret Defence Department history of US involvement in Vietnam that showed that the US government repeatedly misled the public about the war.

 

Manning’s sentencing begins on Wednesday. The charge of aiding the enemy was the most serious of 21 counts and carried a potential life sentence.

His trial was unusual because he acknowledged giving WikiLeaks more than 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, plus video of a 2007 US helicopter attack that killed civilians in Iraq and a Reuters news

photographer and his driver. In the footage, airmen laughed and called targets “dead bastards”.

Manning pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser offences that could have brought him 20 years behind bars, yet the government continued to pursue the original, more serious charges.

Manning has said he leaked the material to expose the U.S military’s “bloodlust” and disregard for human life, and what he considered American diplomatic deceit. He said he chose information he believed would not the harm the US, and he wanted to start a debate on military and foreign policy. He did not testify at his trial.

Defence attorney David Coombs portrayed Manning as a “young, naive but good-intentioned” soldier who was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay service member at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the US military.

Agencies

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