Today the much-anticipated verdict in the Bradley Manning trial was announced. Manning was found not guilty of the most severe charge that he faced, "aiding the enemy." However, he was found guilty of 20 other charges. Manning had already pled guilty on 10 lesser charges of espionage in February, 2013. A closed sentencing session will take place on Wednesday, July 31, during which the U.S. government will be presenting classified "damage assessments" on the impact of the leaks to national security.
BackgroundBradley Manning was a U.S. army analyst deployed in Iraq between 2009 and early 2010. After witnessing what he considered to be evidence of “war crimes and deceitful diplomacy,” Manning began passing classified documents such as battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and battlefield video footage to WikiLeaks. These materials amounted to approximately 700,000 classified documents and began to be published publicly by WikiLeaks in mid-2010. These leaks constituted the “biggest breach of classified information in the United States history.” Manning was arrested in May 2010, and charged with 21 counts, among them theft, computer fraud, espionage, and aiding the enemy. This final charge was the most serious, as Manning likely would have faced life imprisonment if he had been convicted. Government officials had been pushing for conviction on the charge of aiding the enemy, as they argued that Manning had passed these documents to WikiLeaks in full knowledge that they would be seen by Al Qaeda operatives, thus demonstrating “a general evil intent.” However, the historical precedents for conviction on this charge typically pertain to an American soldier directly transmitting state secrets to a known enemy. As any aid to the enemy in Manning’s case likely resulted from an unintended or indirect transmission of information, Manning was acquitted on this charge.
Reactions from human rights organizationsAmnesty International | USA: Bradley Manning acquitted of ‘aiding the enemy’ ARTICLE19 | Bradley Manning: Victim of state oppression Index on Censorship | Index on Censorship condemns verdicts in Bradley Manning case Reporters Without Borders | Manning verdict blow for investigative journalism and its sources
In the newsAl Jazeera English | Wikileaks and Anonymous respond to status quo journalism The Atlantic | Will Bradley Manning Be Remembered as a Traitor or a Patriot? CBC | Bradley Manning guilty of lesser espionage charges in WikiLeaks case CNN | Bradley Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy Democracy Now | Bradley Manning verdict The Globe and Mail | Did Bradley Manning’s leaks aid U.S. enemies? The Guardian | Bradley Manning: not the enemy The Guardian | Bradley Manning: whistleblower or traitor? The National Post | Bradley manning verdict: Wikileaker not guilty of aiding the enemy, but convicted of espionage NBC News | Bradley Manning verdict could test notion of aiding enemy Reuters | Private Manning acquitted of aiding enemy in WikiLeaks case The Toronto Star | Bradley Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy in WikiLeaks case ThinkProgress | What You Need to Know About the Bradley Manning Verdict
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