Washington : Army Pfc Bradley Manning goes on trial today more than three years after he was arrested in Iraq and charged in the biggest leak of classified information in US history.
Manning has admitted to sending troves of material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and pleaded guilty to charges that would send him to prison for up to 20 years. The US military and the Obama administration weren’t satisfied, though, and pursued a charge of aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.
The trial on that most serious charge and 20 other offences begins today for the 25-year-old former intelligence analyst from Oklahoma. It’s the most high-profile case for an administration that has come under criticism for its crackdown on leakers. The six prosecutions since Obama took office is more than in all other presidencies combined.
Manning chose to have his court-martial heard by a judge instead of a jury. It is expected to run all summer.
In February, Manning told military judge Army Col Denise Lind that he leaked the material to expose the American military’s “bloodlust” and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he did not believe the information would harm the US and he wanted to start a debate on the role of the military and foreign policy.