Bradley Manning, U.S. Army intelligence officer accused of leaking documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, pleaded guilty to the 10 charges indicting him that he illegally obtained the classified documents but pleaded not guilty to the remaining 12 graver charges, including espionage for aiding the enemy.
Manning agreed to serve 20 years in prison but the court, headed by Judge Col. Denise Lind, is yet to accept or reject his plea. He can be imposed with life sentence once he loses in his espionage charges, according to a report by CBS News.
The 25-year-old soldier was accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents to WikiLeaks, including Iraq and Afghanistan battleground reports and even the State Department’s diplomatic cables which contained embarrassing statements from ambassadors that strained U.S. relations with other countries. Manning accessed the documents when he worked as an intelligence officer in Operation Station Hammer near Baghdad in 2009 and 2010.
Manning is scheduled to appear in court martial this June for the hearing of his espionage case, the most serious one filed against him.
Despite the serious cases filed against him, Manning is still deemed as a hero by his supporters for exposing the horrible war crimes committed by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, referred to as the “Iraq and Afghan War Diaries”.
He was also the one responsible for leaking the video named “Collateral Murder” where U.S. soldiers aboard a helicopter indiscriminately fired and killed—just like playing in a video game—a group of Iraqi civilians, including a Reuters photographer.
It is believed that the leaked documents triggered the Middle East uprising, also known as the Arab Spring in 2010.
Manning has been jailed for 1,007 days without a formal military trial, Russia Today reported. He was transferred at the medium security detention at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas after the court found out that he was ill-treated at the maximum security Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Virginia. He said that he was required to stand naked while on suicide watch.
Lind ruled that 122 days or about three months should be removed from his forthcoming sentence if he is convicted because he was mistreated by the authorities at Quantico.