FORT MEADE, Maryland: United States (US) Army private Bradley Manning apologized on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) for leaking secret intelligence files to WikiLeaks and admitted for the first time that he had harmed his country and others.
The 25-year-old soldier, convicted last month of espionage for passing a huge cache of classified US battlefield reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic cables, said he was ready to face punishment.
“I’m sorry that my actions have hurt people and have hurt the United States,” he told a military judge, Col. Denise Lind, at a sentencing hearing at Fort Meade, northeast of Washington.
“I want to go forward,” he said. “I understand I must pay the price.”
Manning faces up to 90 years in prison for his offenses, which also include computer fraud and breaching military discipline. He was acquitted of a more serious charge of deliberately “aiding the enemy,” chiefly al-Qaeda, which could have landed him in jail for life without parole.
The dramatic court statement marked the first time Manning had publicly expressed regret over the leaks, the biggest intelligence breach in US history, which led to his arrest in 2010.