The judge presiding over the military court martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has reached a verdict and will announce her decision Tuesday into whether he violated the Espionage Act and aided foreign terror groups by providing more than 700,000 classified documents to the anti-secrecy organization known as WikiLeaks.
Army Col. Denise Lind, who began deliberating Friday after nearly two months of testimony and evidence in the court martial against the 25-year-old soldier, made the announcement on Monday morning.
If convicted of the most serious charges, Manning could spend the rest of his life in a military prison with no parole.
He earlier pleaded guilty to lesser charges of mishandling U.S. classified material, and for that he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
During the trial at Ft. Meade, military prosecutors presented what they called a “mountain of evidence” showing that Manning purposely sought out WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, and gave it secret combat videos, terror detainee assessments, State Department cables and other confidential material. They have described it as the largest breach of U.S. secrets in the nation’s history.
Manning’s defense team, however, has maintained he was a whistle-blower who through his work as an intelligence analyst in a unit southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, discovered what he considered government misconduct and wanted to share it with the public. David Coombs, his chief attorney, described him as young, naive and good-intentioned.
The verdict will set the stage for a short, second phase in the trial in which more evidence and witness testimony will be presented about Manning himself, the damage he caused to national security and how much longer he should spend behind bars after his arrest three years ago.