Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy

Army Pfc. acquitted of the most serious charge, but convicted on all other counts.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted by military police as he leaves after the first day of closing arguments in his military trial on July 25, 2013, in Fort Meade, Md.
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A military court found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge he faced for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, but convicted him of several other lesser charges.

[READ: Journalism Doomed If Manning Was Aiding Enemy, Assange Says]

Manning was charged on more than 20 counts, including espionage, computer fraud and theft charges, as well as the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. If convicted of the latter, Manning would have faced a possible life sentence. Military judge Army Col. Denise Lind did, however, convict Manning of 19 other counts of violating the Espionage Act, including five counts of espionage and five counts of theft.

 

Together, the theft charges carry a maximum sentence of 50 years. Manning was found guilty of stealing government property, including military records, database files and U.S. State Department records.

Without the charge of aiding the enemy, Manning could still face a sentence of more than 100 years in prison. Sentencing is expected to begin Wednesday morning.

[ALSO: Government Rests Its Case Against Bradley Manning]

The 25-year-old former Army intelligence analyst previously entered a guilty plea to 10 lesser charges that carried a prison sentence of 20 years. He acknowledged that while he was working in Baghdad, Iraq, from November 2009 to May 2010, he uploaded more than 700,000 files to WikiLeaks – saying he revealed the war logs, battlefield video clips and profiles of Guantanamo detainees to document "the true costs of the wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Throughout the trial, Manning's defense lawyers portrayed him as a young, naive soldier who became jaded by the war in Iraq and leaked the information in order to "make the world a better place."

But prosecutors said Manning's actions had a serious impact on national security, arguing that they had evidence that the information Manning leaked made it to senior al-Qaida officials. Prosecutors claimed that some evidence showed Osama bin laden may have seen some of the material on WikiLeaks.

[MORE: Witnesses Paint Manning as a Loner]

The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, said in a statement that it was "outrageous" of the government to invoke the Espionage Act, which the center says is a "tool to suppress political dissent and antiwar activism."

"We now live in a country where someone who exposes war crimes can be sentenced to life even if not found guilty of aiding the enemy, while those responsible for the war crimes remain free," the statement says. "Manning's treatment, prosecution, and sentencing have one purpose: to silence potential whistleblowers and the media as well."

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