Bradley Manning pleads guilty to leaking secret government documents
FT. MEADE, Md. – Army Pfc. Bradley Edward Manning pleaded guilty Thursday to 10 charges that he illegally acquired and transferred U.S. government secrets, agreeing to serve 20 years in prison for leaking classified material to WikiLeaks that described U.S. military and diplomatic efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe.
The 25-year-old soldier, however, pleaded not guilty to 12 more serious charges, including espionage for aiding the enemy, meaning that his criminal case will go forward at a general court-martial in June. If convicted at trial, he risks a sentence of life in prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.
A small, thin soldier in Army blues and eyeglasses, Manning admitted that he leaked the video of a helicopter gun battle, State Department cables, an Army field manual and Army documents on Iraq and Afghanistan that detailed the military’s patrol reports there.
He also admitted that he leaked confidential file assessments of detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and five classified records from a U.S. bombing in the Farah Province of Afghanistan, which killed up to 30 civilians.
In all, the 5-1/2-year veteran once assigned to Operation Station Hammer near Baghdad in Iraq pleaded guilty to 10 counts, each drawing two years in prison.
Asked repeatedly by the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, if he wanted to go forward with the guilty pleas, Manning answered each time with short, crisp words: “Yes, ma’am,” and “Yes, your honor.”
He was arrested in May 2010, and already has spent 1,007 days in jail.
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