Bradley Manning was found guilty of lesser charges.
The United States Intelligence Analyst, Bradley Manning, who handed hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. information to anti-secrecy website, Wikileaks, has been found not guilty of “aiding the enemy”; the most serious of the charges he faced, which could have given him a life sentence.
A U.S. military court on Tuesday however found Mr. Manning guilty of 20 lesser charges out of 21 total, including unauthorised release of classified information, and espionage charges.
The 25-year-old soldier admitted giving up to 700,000 of U.S. diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, but denied he acted to aid US enemies such as Al-Qaeda.
The leak is considered the largest ever of secret U.S. government files.
He faces a maximum sentence up to 136 years. His sentencing hearing is set to begin on Wednesday. But the terms are expected to amount to about 20 years concurrently.
The court’s decision is the climax of a prolonged case that started in 2009.
Mr. Manning, who at the time was serving in Iraq, delivered the huge cache of classified data to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, who is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Among the items sent to Wikileaks by Mr. Manning was graphic footage of an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 that killed a dozen people in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, including a Reuters photographer.
Ahead of the sentencing, Mr. Assange criticised the U.S. plan to seek a conviction for “Aiding the enemy” in an interview with the CNN.
Mr. Assange said if Mr. Manning was found guilty of aiding the enemy, the verdict will set an unfortunate precedent for investigative journalism, as it will mean that any information obtained or published, and for any reason becomes useful to the enemy, will be categorised under same charge.
Asked whether he believed the scale of information Mr. Manning provided was worth risking a life in jail term, he said it was only the convicted analyst who could make that judgment. But he said Mr. Manning was a “hero”.
The Intelligence Analyst was arrested in 2010 in Iraq and kept in a U.S. facility in Kuwait for a week before being transferred to the United States.
His has since been detained in a solitary confinement, prompting criticisms of the American government, by international human right organisations.
The military judge said prosecutors failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the young soldier’s act was aimed at aiding the terrorists and that it actually did.
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