AUDIO: Bradley Manning explains why he leaked secret documents

Bradley Manning is escorted by military police as he departs the courtroom at Fort Meade, Md., in this file photo.
(Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images)

A group advocating transparency has released audio of Pfc. Bradley Manning reading his 35-page, handwritten statement about why he gave massive troves of secret government documents to the website WikiLeaks. Audio and transcript below.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit conglomerate of activists and journalists formed in December, released the audio Tuesday morning.


Manning, 25, pleaded guilty in military court Feb. 28 to 10 criminal charges of misusing classified material, including unauthorized possession and willful communication of information from military databases. He is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison and be dishonorably discharged.

He still faces more serious charges by the military, including aiding the enemy. Government officials have said some of the information Manning leaked ended up in the hands of Osama bin Laden; the information also appeared in media outlets that seized on the availability of frank inside intelligence on the United States’ vast international presence.

“We have been disturbed that Manning’s pretrial hearings have been hampered by the kind of extreme government secrecy that his releases to WikiLeaks were intended to protest,” the Freedom of the Press Foundation said in a statement explaining the release of the recording, which was not allowed under court rules. “While reporters are allowed in the courtroom, no audio or visual recordings are permitted by the judge, no transcripts of the proceedings or any motions by the prosecution have been released, and lengthy court orders read on the stand by the judge have not been published for public review.”

The statement added, “By releasing this audio recording, we wish to make sure that the voice of this generation’s most prolific whistleblower can be heard — literally — by the world.”

Manning said he was motivated by a government that he saw as “obsessed with killing and capturing people.”

Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, a cofounder of the group, said he didn’t know who made the recording, but said the recorder “has done the American public a great service.”

The Army has notified the judge of a violation of court rules, the Associated Press reported.

“The U.S. Army is currently reviewing the procedures set in place to safeguard the security and integrity of the legal proceedings, and ensure Pfc. Manning receives a fair and impartial trial,” the Army said in a statement.

Forbes writer Andy Greenberg also obtained a redacted transcript of Manning’s statement released by Manning’s attorneys (embedded below).


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