FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) – Pfc. Bradley Manning will learn Tuesday afternoon whether he will be convicted of aiding the enemy – punishable by life in prison without parole – for sending more than 700,000 government documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, a military judge said Monday.
The charge of aiding the enemy is the most serious of 21 counts Manning is contesting. He also is charged with eight federal Espionage Act violations, five federal theft counts, and two federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations, each punishable by up to 10 years; and five military counts of violating a lawful general regulation, punishable by up to two years each.
Lind has tentatively scheduled a sentencing hearing beginning Wednesday. The sentencing phase could run for several weeks; each side has more than 20 potential witnesses.
Manning is being tried by a judge alone, which was his choice. The trial began June 3.
The 25-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., has 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 working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in early 2010. WikiLeaks published most of the material online.
The video included footage of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed at least nine men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.
Manning claims 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 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, knowing it would be seen by al-Qaida. They showed that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden obtained copies of some of the documents WikiLeaks published before bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals in 2011.
Manning pleaded guilty in February to 10 counts, including less-serious military versions of all the federal charges. His admitted offenses carry prison terms punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors accepted one of his pleas and tried to prove him guilty of the greater offenses for the other nine counts.
After sentencing, the verdict and sentence will be reviewed — and may be reduced — by the commander of the Military District of Washington, currently Maj. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan. If Buchanan approves a sentence that includes a bad-conduct discharge, a dishonorable discharge or confinement for a year or more, the case will be automatically reviewed by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. Further appeals can be made to the military’s highest court, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the U.S. Supreme Court.