Private First Class Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence officer charged with leaking 700,000 classified military and diplomatic files through WikiLeaks, has been found not guilty of aiding the enemy.
Manning, 25, was convicted of 20 out of 21 charges for handing documents to Wikileaks, headed by Julian Assange and still faces the possibility of up to 136 years behind bars.
The verdict was announced by Colonel Denise Lind, the judge at Manning’s long court-martial at Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning’s sentencing will begin at 9.30 a.m. tomorrow.
Manning stood and faced the judge as she read the decision. She didn’t explain her verdict, but said she would release detailed written findings.
Manning was found not guilty of unauthorized possession of information relating to national defense, but was found guilty of most of the other counts against him, which included espionage, computer fraud, and theft.
Aiding the enemy was the most serious charge facing Manning, carrying with it the possibility of a life sentence. Manning could still be sentenced to up to 20 years behind bars.
From the Mail:
Manning admitted to sending more than 470,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables and other material, including several battlefield video clips, to WikiLeaks while in Iraq in early 2010. WikiLeaks published most of the material online.
Manning said he sent the material to expose war crimes and deceitful diplomacy. In closing arguments last week, defense attorney David Coombs portrayed Manning as a naive whistleblower who never intended for the material to be seen by the enemy. Manning claims he selected material that wouldn’t harm troops or national security.
Prosecutors called him an anarchist hacker and traitor who indiscriminately leaked classified information he had sworn to protect.
They said al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden obtained copies of some of the documents WikiLeaks published before he was killed by U.S. Navy Seals in 2011.
Earlier this year, Manning spent an hour in court explaining that the content he leaked “upset” and “disturbed” him, but that he did not think his actions would harm the U.S. He claimed he thought the information was outdated.
Manning said prior to giving the documents to WikiLeaks, he first attempted to pass it along to The Washington Post and then to the New York Times.