Bradley Manning found not guilty on charge of aiding the enemy.
On Tuesday an Army judge, Colonel Denise Lind, found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy,” a charge that has not been used in the US since the Civil War and carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Lind did find Manning guilty of almost all of the more than 20 other crimes he has been charged with though.
As the Washington Post reports:
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 to a mole for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which disclosed more than 700,000 documents Manning gathered.
Had Manning been convicted of aiding the enemy, Manning would have faced a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. Civil libertarians saw the prospect of a conviction on that charge, which has not been used since the Civil War, as a dangerous precedent that could have would have sent an unmistakable message to would-be government whistle-blowers.
“The heart of this matter is the level of culpability,” said retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He noted that Manning has already pled guilty to some charges and admitted leaking secret documents that he felt exposed wartime misdeeds. “Beyond that is government overreach.”
Manning was also acquitted on one count of the espionage act, a charge which came about due to the leaking of a video depicting a US military airstrike in Farah, Afghanistan.
The sentencing phase of Manning’s trial is set to begin Wednesday morning.