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Manning Found Guilty on Espionage Act Charges, Acquitted of “Aiding the Enemy”

A military judge found Bradley Manning guilty of violating the Espionage Act but acquitted him on the more serious charge of “aiding the enemy.” Manning already has pled guilty to some charges, for which he faces up to 20 years in prison.

July 30, 2013

Today, a milit­ary judge found Brad­ley Manning guilty of viol­at­ing the Espi­on­age Act for disclos­ing hundreds of thou­sands of clas­si­fied docu­ments to WikiLeaks. However, she acquit­ted him on the more seri­ous charge of “aiding the enemy.”

The judge rejec­ted the govern­ment’s argu­ment that Manning, by virtue of his train­ing as an intel­li­gence officer, must have known that the inform­a­tion he disclosed was likely to reach Al Qaeda. But she also ruled that Manning had reason to believe his disclos­ures could harm the U.S., even if that was not his goal.

“This is a historic verdict,” says Goitein. “Manning is one of very few people ever charged under the Espi­on­age Act prosec­u­tions for leaks to the media. The only other person who was convicted after trial was pardoned. Despite the lack of any evid­ence that he inten­ded any harm to the United States, Manning faces decades in prison. That’s a very scary preced­ent.”

The judge will sched­ule a senten­cing hear­ing in the weeks ahead. Manning already has pled guilty to some charges, for which he faces up to 20 years in prison. In order to determ­ine the appro­pri­ate sentence, the judge will need to consider an issue that was ruled irrel­ev­ant at the guilt phase of the trial: whether Manning wanted to harm the U.S.

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