Bradley Manning Found Not Guilty Of Aiding The Enemy


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Bradley Manning, the young Army private that's a whistleblower to some and a traitor to others, has been in a military court the past few months as the government argued that his sharing of classified government documents with WikiLeaks aided Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Now the judge in the case has finally issued a verdict.

RT reports that Colonel Denise Lind issued a not guilty verdict for charges of aiding the enemy. If he had been found guilty, that particular charge alone would have carried a sentence of life in prison. He was also found not guilty of violating the espionage act for the release of the "Collateral Murder" video that shows U.S. soldiers killing unarmed Iraqis and two Reuters journalists.

Despite being found not guilty for the above two charges, he still faces up to 136 years in prison after being found guilty for 19 other charges. Those charges include numerous counts of violating the Espionage Act, theft and embezzlement.

So, where do we go from here? Well, sentencing will begin tomorrow morning as witnesses are gathered to recommend potential sentences. He could face the maximum 136 years in prison, but it's unlikely. The fact of the matter is that Manning will be sentenced to a number of years in a military prison, but it's unknown at this moment how harsh his sentence will be.

As expected, WikiLeaks issued a pretty strong response to the verdict via Twitter. The site said that the verdict negatively affects the free press:

Other groups that were firmly in the pro-Manning camp issued similar statements today. The ACLU says that this case made it clear that the U.S. government is attempting to intimidate whistleblowers.

"While we're relieved that Mr. Manning was acquitted of the most dangerous charge, the ACLU has long held the view that leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act," said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. "Since he already pleaded guilty to charges of leaking information – which carry significant punishment – it seems clear that the government was seeking to intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future."

One chapter in the Manning saga may be over, but we still got a long road ahead of us. Sentencing could very well last through all of August so we still have to wait a bit to hear of Manning's ultimate fate.