FORT MEADE, Maryland: Bradley Manning, the United States (US) soldier who risks life in prison for leaking a massive trove of secret US government files to WikiLeaks, is expected to learn the verdict in his trial on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
US military Judge Denise Lind plans to issue her judgment at (5 p.m. Manila time), as the trial, which got under way in June, draws to a close.
Lind will decide whether Manning was a traitor who committed espionage against his country and aided America’s enemies, or a whistleblower who hoped to shine a spotlight on what he felt was US government misconduct.
Manning was serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq when he sent WikiLeaks a vast cache of secret diplomatic cables and classified military reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 25-year-old has admitted giving the anti-secrecy website some 700,000 documents, pleading guilty to 10 lesser charges, including espionage and computer fraud, which could carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
But Manning has denied other charges, including the most serious one—that he knowingly helped enemies of the United States, most notably Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.
If convicted of “aiding the enemy,” he could spend the rest of his life in jail. But even without it, the other charges could add up to 154 years imprisonment. The sentencing phase of the trial could begin as early as Wednesday.
To find Manning guilty of “aiding the enemy,” the judge must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the soldier knew the documents he leaked could end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda.
In closing arguments, defense attorney David Coombs said Manning was no traitor but a “young, naive and good-intentioned” citizen who wanted to encourage public debate about US foreign policy.
Most of the information he sent to WikiLeaks was published between April and November 2010.
In a preliminary hearing in February this year, Manning read a long letter justifying his actions, in which he spoke of the “bloodlust” exhibited by a US Apache helicopter crew who gunned down a group of Iraqis in Baghdad.