At the center of one of the country’s biggest cases of leaked documents, Manning was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, a World War I-era law designed to prosecute Americans supporting enemies during wartime. Six Americans have been charged under the Espionage Act during President Barack Obama’s tenure.
John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, was recently sentenced to two and a half years in prison for leaking information on U.S. interrogation practices.
In a written statement, Manning confessed that he was responsible for many of the leaks, which number in the millions, that surfaced on the pro-transparency website, WikiLeaks. He said he went to WikiLeaks with his information after the Washington Post and New York Times turned him down.
As an intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning had complete access to many intelligence databases. On why he divulged the information, he said in a statement:
“In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency or COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners . . . I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A [databases containing intelligence reports] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general . . . as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.” Tweet quote: Tweet
Bradley Manning pled not guilty to the more serious charges of aiding the enemy.
Earlier this year, the prosecution began an attempt to prove that information Manning provided to WikiLeaks ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda.
This week, the prosecution alluded to the possibility that it may call one of the Navy SEALs in the raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. The prospective witness, currently called “John Doe,” would be expected to testify that he found four files of information on digital media in bin Laden’s compound that originated with WikiLeaks.
Ashton Fein, the lead prosecution lawyer, claimed this week that this information “was requested by Osama bin Laden; a member of al Qaeda went and got the information and gave it to bin Laden.”
This week also marked the 1000th day Manning has been in custody without trial. Manning’s lawyer entered a motion to get the charges dismissed because his client has not received a speedy trial. Tweet it: Tweet
The military judge, Col. Denise Lind, ruled that the delays did not constitute a violation of the right to a speedy trial. She said the delays were “reasonable” and the prosecution “diligent.”
The trial was originally planned to commence in February, but was moved to March, and is now scheduled for June 3.
Even if he is not found guilty on any of the remaining charges of aiding the enemy, Bradley Manning’s guilty pleas mean he is likely to spend up to twenty years in prison.