Wikileaks Leaker Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy, Convicted on Other Charges

From the Washington Post:

“An Army judge on Tuesday acquitted Pfc. Bradley Manning of aiding the enemy by disclosing a trove of secret U.S. government documents, a striking rebuke to military prosecutors who argued that the largest leak in U.S. history had assisted al-Qaeda.

The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of most of the more than 20 crimes he was charged with, including several counts of violating the Espionage Act. She also acquitted him of one count of violating the Espionage Act that stemmed from his leak of a video that depicted a fatal U.S. military airstrike in Farah, Afghanistan.”

The result of this ruling is that Manning is no longer facing life imprisonment on the sole count of aiding the enemy, which would have been on the table had he been convicted. That being said, he could still face up to 130 years on the remaining counts.

Bradley Manning is not a likeable character. He’s vain, he’s impulsive, and his disciplinary record is a mile long. But while what he did was certainly illegal, he shouldn’t have to face more than ten years in prison. The US government has yet to prove that the release of these documents in any way harmed national security and as the trial court found, there is nothing he did that was aimed to help the enemy.

The sentencing phase of the trial will start at 9:30 tomorrow, and I’d expect that prosecution is going to ask for the maximum sentence. The defense will argue that Manning’s intentions were noble, if misguided, and that leniency should applied to his sentence. But after all is said and done, Bradley Manning will be in prison a very, very long time.

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