On Tuesday, a military judge acquitted Pfc. Bradley Manning of the serious charge of aiding the enemy which was levied against the serviceman for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military reports and diplomatic cables to the website Wikileaks.
The aiding-the-enemy charge could have resulted in a sentence of up to life in prison or even to the death penalty, though the military hadn’t sought capital punishment in the Manning case.
Manning, however, still faces up to 150 years in prison for a slew of lesser charges included in his 21-count indictment including: five counts of espionage, five theft charges, a computer fraud charge and a number of military infractions. Manning had earlier pleaded guilty to some of the indictment charges, risking a potential 20 years behind bars. But government prosecutors pushed forward with the full indictment.
Manning’s defense attorney had argued that the aiding the enemy charge should be dropped because the serviceman did not provide the information directly to the enemy, but he gave the documents to WikiLeaks in an attempt to “spark reform” and provoke debate about what Manning described as the military’s “bloodlust” and disregard for human life. Furthermore, Manning did not attempt to sell the intelligence cables, which a counterintelligence witness valued at about $5.7 million.
Manning’s sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.