Wikileaks leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted of “aiding the enemy,” the most serious charge against him, by a military judge on Tuesday. A conviction could have carried with it the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
However, Manning was convicted of all but one of the other, less serious charges of espionage and theft, the Guardian reported. A lengthy prison sentence is thus still likely, with the maximum possibility being 130 years in prison. The sentencing hearing for the twenty guilty charges will begin Wednesday.
Judge Denise Lind handed down the verdict at 1:00 p.m. from Fort Meade, Maryland, where the court martial was held. Moments after it was revealed, the acquittal was already being interpreted by some as a rebuke to military prosecutors, who had sought the more serious charge despite the fact that Manning had already pleaded guilty to ten of the twenty-one other charges he faced.
Manning was arrested in Iraq in 2010 after the FBI discovered evidence that he had leaked massive troves of confidential data to the Wikileaks website. The information included hundreds of thousands of confidential military memos and hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables between the State Department and foreign governments.
Most famous among the leaked information is the now famous “Collateral Murder” video, which shows footage of an American attack helicopter killing unidentifiable individuals on the ground in Baghdad during the Iraq War. The victims, it was later discovered, included Reuters cameramen and Iraqi civilians.
Imprisoned first in Kuwait and later in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Quantico, Virginia, Manning’s final sentence will have 112 days subtracted from it because of mistreatment during his confinement over the last three years.