Bradley Manning verdict: cleared of 'aiding the enemy' but guilty of other charges
• Pfc. Manning convicted of multiple Espionage Act violations
• Acquitted of most serious 'aiding the enemy' charge
• Army private faces maximum jail sentence of 136 years
Bradley Manning, the source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of secret disclosures, faces a possible maximum sentence of 136 years in military jail after he was convicted on Tuesday of most charges on which he stood trial.
Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over the court martial of the US soldier, delivered her verdict in curt and pointed language. "Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty," she repeated over and over, as the reality of a prolonged prison sentence for Manning – on top of the three years he has already spent in detention – dawned.
The one ray of light in an otherwise bleak outcome for Manning was that he was found not guilty of the single most serious charge against him – that he knowingly "aided the enemy", in practice al-Qaida, by disclosing information to the WikiLeaks website that in turn made it accessible to all users including enemy groups.
Lind's decision to avoid setting a precedent by applying the swingeing "aiding the enemy" charge to an official leaker will invoke a sigh of relief from news organisations and civil liberties groups who had feared a guilty verdict would send a chill across public interest journalism.
The judge also found Manning not guilty of having leaked an encrypted copy of a video of a US air strike in the Farah province of Aghanistan in which many civilians died. Manning's defence team had argued vociferously that he was not the source of this video, though the soldier did admit to the later disclosure of an unencrypted version of the video and related documents.
Lind also accepted Manning's version of several of the key dates in the WikiLeaks disclosures, and took some of the edge from other less serious charges. But the overriding toughness of the verdict remains: the soldier was found guilty in their entirety of 17 out of the 22 counts against him, and of an amended version of four others.
The guilty verdicts included seven out of the eight counts brought under the Espionage Act. On these counts, Manning was accused of leaking the Afghan and Iraq war logs, embassy cables and Guantánamo files "with reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the US or the advantage of any foreign nation". The 1917 act has previously been reserved largely for those who engage in spying as opposed to leaking; the seven convictions under the act are likely to be seen as a major stepping up of the US government's harsh crackdown on whistleblowing.
Manning was also found guilty of "wrongfully and wantonly" causing to be published on the internet intelligence belonging to the US, "having knowledge that intelligence published on the internet is accesible to the enemy". That guilty ruling could still have widest ramifications for news organisations working on investigations relating to US national security.
The verdict was condemned by human rights campaigners. Amnesty International's senior director of international law and policy, Widney Brown, said: "The government's priorities are upside down. The US government has refused to investigate credible allegations of torture and other crimes under international law despite overwhelming evidence.
"Yet they decided to prosecute Manning who it seems was trying to do the right thing – reveal credible evidence of unlawful behaviour by the government.http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/30/bradley-manning-wikileaks-judge-verdict?CMP=ema_565&et_cid=43601&et_rid=7336937&Linkid=http%3a%2f%2fwww.guardian.co.uk%2fworld%2f2013%2fjul%2f30%2fbradley-manning-wikileaks-judge-verdict
This post was modified from its original form on 31 Jul, 6:12