Pvt. Bradley Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy today, but convicted on multiple lesser counts, including violating the Espionage Act.
Twenty to thirty supporters, wearing black tee shirts emblazoned with the word "Truth", were in the courtroom alongside eight reporters. There were no outbursts as the verdict was read.
The verdict was read by Justice Col. Denise Lind at 1 p.m. EST, who presided over Manning's trial and deliberated over the weekend after closing arguments wrapped late last week. The sentencing phase will begin tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. EST.
Manning did not look surprised, and smiled briefly after the verdict. His attorney appeared resigned, as if expecting the outcome. Though cleared on the most serious charge, Manning still faces a maximum possible sentence of 136 years, according to an Army legal expert who briefed reporters after the verdict. But he could receive less, due in part to guilty pleas entered on some counts.
Pvt. Manning, accused of leaking a massive trove of classified information to Wikileaks, spent the last three years in custody awaiting his day in court. Described as a whistleblower or traitor, depending on whom you ask, his disclosures–including some 750,000 pages of documents and a video of civilian killings in Iraq–were calculated to expose wrongdoing by the U.S. Government.
"I believed if the public was aware of the data, it would start a public debate of the wars," Manning said in a statement given at the trial.
Prosecutors, however, accused him of being a "fame-hungry traitor" and forcing the withdrawal of ambassadors from diplomatically sensitive regions.
Manning reported trying to provide the information first to U.S. newspapers, but he reported that a Washington Post reporter brushed him off and that the New York Times simply ignored it. Both newspapers–like many others–gave the revelations significant coverage after they were published by Wikileaks, the clearing house for leaks.
He was turned in by Adrian Lamo, a correspondent to whom he disclosed his activites in a series of internet chats. Manning, 25, born in Crescent, Oklahoma, was arrested in May, 2010, while serving in Iraq.
— Xeni Jardin and Rob Beschizza