Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy – Convicted of Multiple Other Counts

On Tuesday, A military judge found Pfc. Bradley Manning, 25, not guilty of aiding the enemy, however the judge did convict him of multiple counts of violating the Espionage Act.

Judge Col. Denise Lind released the decision after three days of deliberation.

Manning had requested that a judge and not a jury decide his fate.

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Pfc. Manning was convicted of five espionage counts, five theft charges, a computer fraud charge and other military infractions.

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Manning had already confessed to being the WikiLeaks’ source for a large amount of government documents, including videos of airstrikes that resulted in civilian deaths, hundreds of thousands of front-line incident reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, about 250,000 diplomatic cables and dozens of Guantanamo Bay prisoners held without trial.

The “aiding the enemy: charge could have carried a life sentence. The government sought to claim that Manning’s leaks constituted “aiding the enemy” because the documents were put on display for the entire world to read, including enemies of America.

One does wonder about the irony of such a charge, seeing that the current administration actually does aid America’s enemies with cash, weapons and military helicopters, u-boats and jets.

The implications of the unprecedented “aiding the enemy” charge in a leak case, could have significant long-term ramifications for investigative journalism when it comes to the internet.

Pfc. Manning’s court martial began in early June and wrapped up last week as the prosecution referred to Manning as an anarchist and traitor who was out to make a splash.

The defense said that Manning’s “sole purpose was to make a difference,” portraying him as a whistleblower. The defense also said that Manning was “young and naïve.”

CBS News adds:

One of the videos leaked by Manning included a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed at least nine men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. The video inflamed anger among many in the both the U.S. and abroad, because it allegedly showed unarmed civilians being killed, something the U.S. military disputed was incorrectly portrayed due to editing.

Other material leaked by Manning included thousands of confidential diplomatic cables that revealed the frank and often embarrassing discussions America’s diplomatic corps had about various world leaders and geopolitics. For a time, there was anger amongst foreign diplomats and governments about some of the exposed secrets, but three years on, the latest series of U.S. government leaks produced by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have received nearly all of the international outrage towards America’s clandestine behavior and actions. An example of one of the many revelations Manning leaked was a diplomatic cable claiming Saudi Arabia — a key regional ally for the U.S. — is one of the largest origin points for funds supporting international terrorism.

From the documents Manning leaked that came from the Pentagon, one of the many revelations was that there were 109,032 “violent deaths” recorded in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, including 66,081 civilians, which is 15,000 more than previously reported.

Manning’s sentencing hearing is set to begin Wednesday.

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