Monday, July 29, 2013

Verdict Is Expected Tuesday for Pfc. Manning

July 29, 2013

Verdict Is Expected Tuesday for Soldier in Leaks Case

New York Times

WASHINGTON — A military judge has reached a verdict and will announce it Tuesday afternoon in the high-profile court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst whose release of some 700,000 secret documents to WikiLeaks opened a window into American military and diplomatic activities.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, will read the verdict from the bench at 1 p.m. at Fort Meade, Md., the army said in a statement.

Private Manning has already confessed to being WikiLeaks’ source for the files, which included videos of airstrikes in which civilians were killed, hundreds of thousands of front-line incident reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, dossiers on men being held without trial at the Guantánamo Bay prison, and about 250,000 diplomatic cables.

But while Private Manning has pleaded guilty to a lesser version of the charges he is facing, which could expose him to up to 20 years in prison, the government decided to press forward with a trial on a more serious version of the charges, including “aiding the enemy” and violations of the Espionage Act, which could result in a life sentence.

His court-martial began in early June, and the merits portion wrapped up last week with closing arguments in which a prosecutor portrayed Private Manning as an anarchist and a traitor who was merely out to make a splash, while his defense lawyer portrayed him as a young, naïve, but well-intentioned humanist who wanted to spark debate and bring about change.

Beyond the fate of Private Manning as an individual, the “aiding the enemy” charge — unprecedented in a leak case — could have significant long-term ramifications for investigative journalism in the Internet era.

The government’s theory is that providing defense-related information to an entity that published it for the world to see constituted aiding the enemy because the world includes adversaries, like Al Qaeda, who could read the documents online.

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