Manning guilty of espionage but not ‘aiding enemy’
Washington: Bradley Manning, the US soldier who leaked a massive trove of secret US government files to WikiLeaks, was today acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy but was convicted of several counts of espionage.
Manning, 25, the former Army intelligence officer who was branded as both a whistle-blower and a traitor after he sent 700,000 secret government documents to WikiLeaks, was convicted of illegally releasing classified documents knowing they would be accessible to the enemy.
The verdict is a striking rebuke to military prosecutors who argued that the largest leak in US history had assisted al-Qaeda.
The verdict was handed down by Col Denise Lind, the judge at Manning's court-martial at Fort Meade. Lind found Manning guilty of most of the more than 20 crimes he was charged with, including five counts of theft, five counts of espionage, a computer fraud charge and other military infractions, the Washington Post reported.
Lind, found Manning guilty of most of the more than 20 crimes he was charged with. She also acquitted him of one count of the espionage act that stemmed from his leak of a video that depicted a fatal US military airstrike in Farah, Afghanistan.
Aiding the enemy was the most serious charge and carried a potential life sentence.
He faces a maximum sentence of more than 100 years. His sentencing hearing is set to begin on Wednesday.
Manning has said he was disillusioned by an American foreign policy bent on "killing and capturing people" when he released the documents, including battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, in 2010.
In a closing argument at the court-martial, his lawyer, David Coombs, argued that Manning was "trying to ply his knowledge to hopefully save lives," was young and naive and thought he could make a difference.
Military prosecutors said Manning was not a whistle-blower but a traitor. They said Manning knew that enemies of the United States use WikiLeaks as a resource, and they said some of the documents he released wound up in the hands of al Qaeda.
The prosecutors said Manning craved notoriety and put his fellow soldiers at risk.