FORT MEADE, Maryland (AP) — U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has been acquitted of the most serious charge he faced, aiding the enemy, but was convicted of 19 other counts for leaking a trove of classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. The military judge in his case has scheduled his sentencing hearing to begin Wednesday.
Here’s a look at the key elements of the case:
WHAT WAS MANNING CONVICTED OF?
Manning was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which carried a possible sentence of life in prison. He was still convicted of espionage, theft, computer fraud and other charges. How long Manning spends in prison is up to the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind. However, Manning could still spend the rest of his life in prison if the judge imposes the maximum sentence of 136 years.
WHAT DID MANNING DO?
The 25-year-old native of Oklahoma admittedly leaked hundreds of thousands of classified Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and diplomatic cables in 2009 and 2010 while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad. Manning also has acknowledged leaking a 2007 video clip of a U.S. helicopter crew killing 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. The Pentagon concluded the troops acted appropriately, having mistaken the camera equipment for weapons.
WHAT DID THE PROSECUTORS’ EVIDENCE SHOW?
Prosecutors presented testimony from 80 witnesses over five weeks. The government’s evidence showed Manning had been warned about the dangers of disclosing classified information, including posting it online.
There was testimony the leaked material revealed military tactics and other information an enemy could exploit. The government also presented evidence that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden requested and received from an associate some of the documents Manning leaked after they were published on WikiLeaks.
In a more than four-hour closing argument, Fein said Manning betrayed his country’s trust and spilled government secrets to make a name for himself, knowing the material would be seen by al-Qaida.
Fein said Manning relied on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for guidance on what to leak.
WHAT WERE THE DEFENSE’S PRINCIPAL ARGUMENTS?
The defense presented testimony from 10 witnesses in three days, plus one rebuttal witness after resting. Manning did not testify. The defense evidence showed Manning was authorized, even encouraged, to view a wide range of classified information as part of his job. The evidence was meant to counter charges that Manning exceeded his authorized computer access.
The defense also produced evidence some of the information Manning leaked was already publicly known before WikiLeaks published it. A defense expert witness, Harvard communications law professor Yochai Benkler, testified that WikiLeaks served a legitimate journalistic function in publishing leaked material.
WHY DID HE DO IT?
Manning said in February he leaked the material to expose the U.S military’s “bloodlust” and disregard for human life, and what he considered American diplomatic duplicity. He said he chose information he believed would not the harm the United States and he wanted to start a debate on military and foreign policy.
Coombs portrayed Manning as a “young, naive but good-intentioned” soldier who was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay service member at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the U.S. military.
WHAT HAPPENED AS A RESULT OF THE LEAK?
The release of the cables and video embarrassed the U.S. and its allies. The Obama administration has said it threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America’s relations with other governments.
WHO IS THE JUDGE?
Lind has served in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps for 25 years, including four years as a military judge in Europe, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. She is a member of the bars of New York, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the United States Supreme Court. She has several degrees, including a bachelor’s from Siena College and a law degree from Albany Law School. She is 53 years old and married.
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