Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy but convicted of multiple counts of violating espionage act— Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) July 30, 2013
After three long years, at least one leaker's drama has reached its conclusion. Private Bradley Manning, the United States Army soldier who used his access in intelligence to leak hundreds of thousands of State Department cables to whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, received a not guilty verdict for aiding the enemy, but was guilty of 19 counts of espionage, computer theft, and fraud, in a military court-martial. The charges will likely lead him to essentially life imprisonment, with up to 136 years imprisonment, with sentencing beginning tomorrow. Pvt. Manning's charges included those in a plea deal. The verdict was read out by military judge Colonel Denise Lund.
The Wikileaks-related scandal, also called Cablegate, concerned the release by Pvt. Manning of over 250,000 cables between State Department officials and diplomats throughout the world. The cables leaked in Cablegate date back from 1966 all the way up to 2010. The vast majority of the cables contained mostly innocuous information, but there were several contained politically sensitive information, including the names of informants in other countries, political analysis and approaches the State Department was taking, among other things. Initially, the Cablegate cables were released redacted by several news outlets, including the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and the New York Times. While the Cablegate leaks may have played a role in the Arab Spring, there have been an uncounted number of people who have been persecuted after WikiLeaks inadvertently released the cables unredacted in September 2011.
Prior to the leak of the diplomatic cables, Pvt. Manning leaked a video of an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq in 2007 that killed several innocent civilians on the case of mistaken identity. Pvt. Manning also leaked hundreds of thousands of classified military logs related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon his arrest, Pvt. Manning became a cause celebre among anti-war activists and the left for his efforts in leaking the cables, as well as his initial imprisonment by the military, which included a long period of solitary confinement. He waived his right to trial by jury, and had been tried by the Judge Advocate General corps in a court-martial at Fort Meade in Maryland.