Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of delivering classified document to WikiLeaks, has been convicted on most the charges leveled against him, but was found not guilty of the most serious charge of "aiding the enemy." However, he has been found guilty of five counts of violating the Espionage Act, as well as five counts of theft. In all, he was found guilty on 19 of the 22 charges against him. The judge in the case, Colonel Denise Lind, issued her verdict at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Tuesday, ending a month-long court martial and one more chapter in this years-long saga.
The most serious charge of aiding the enemy is punishable by death, though prosecutors were "only" seeking life in prison. However, if the sentences for all the other crimes are added up and served consecutively, he could still spend the rest of his life in prison. Manning has already been in military detention for more than three years, since being arrested in Iraq in 2010. His sentence will be announced tomorrow.
The not guilty verdict is symbolic victory for those who supported Manning and other whistleblowers, like Edward Snowden, as it could have set a dangerous legal precedent by asserting that anyone who shares information with the media could be considered to be aiding the enemy, even indirectly.
Manning has admitted to giving more than 700,000 documents to the Julian Assange's WikiLeaks Foundation, which posted most of them online. He even pled guilty to lesser versions of many of the charges earlier this year, prosecutors went ahead the case anyway. The governement argued that simply allowing the classified documents to appear in public, where potential enemies might seem them, constituted an attempt to aid the enemy.