By Patrick Corby
Private First Class Bradley Manning, the 25 year old US information officer who was accused of leaking sensitive documents to the whistle-blowing body Wikileaks, has pleaded guilty to ten of the 22 charges brought against him in a US court yesterday.
Manning’s early guilty pleas to ten of his lesser charges, including unlawful storing and distribution of classified military information, have been accepted.
The judge, however, is still reviewing the other 12 pleas for June 3rd with most attention being placed on the charge of aiding the enemy.
After his plea was read to the court by his lawyer, David Combes, Manning admitted guilt for the first time in court.
He then proceeded to read a 35 page statement to the court to explain why he risked his life to release the information.
“I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan was a target that needed to be engaged and neutralised but people struggling to live in the pressure cooker of asymmetric warfare,”Manning told a military court.
The officer explained how he first approached respected platforms such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, both of which would eventually release the information in collaboration with Wikileaks, but got turned down personally. He then started transference to the then little known but accessible Wikileaks.
Transferred content from military databases The Combined Information Data Network Exchange Iraq and the Combined Information Data Network Exchange Afghanistan included a video showing the killings of innocent Reutersreporters, photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant Saeed Chmagh, 40, during a US Apache helicopter mission.
Additional content included Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, US diplomatic cables that internally recorded US communications and files on detainees in Guantanamo.
“This was the type of information… that should become public,” said Manning, though he denied that he “believed such information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation”.
“I believe that if the general public … had access to the information … this could spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general,” Private Manning testified, dressed in full military uniform.
Bradley Manning now faces a possible 20 years inside prison for the lesser charges he pleaded guilty to. More serious charges will be ruled on June 3rd.
I also write for The Upcoming, which you can read here.