An Army judge on Tuesday acquitted Pfc. Bradley Manning of aiding the enemy by disclosing a trove of secret U.S. government documents, a striking rebuke to military prosecutors who argued that the largest leak in U.S. history had assisted al-Qaeda.
The judge, Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of most of the more than 20 crimes he was charged with, including several counts of violating the Espionage Act, which could yield a long prison sentence.
She also acquitted him of one count of violating the Espionage Act that stemmed from his leak of a video that depicted a fatal U.S. military airstrike in Farah province, Afghanistan.
The eight-week trial offered a gripping account of Manning’s transformation from a shy soldier who deployed to Baghdad as an intelligence analyst in 2009. After being startled by what he came to see as egregious U.S. wartime conduct, he became a mole for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which ultimately obtained more than 700,000 military and diplomatic documents from Manning. These included war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, cables between the State Department and U.S. embassies, and assessments of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
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