Pfc. Bradley Manning, known for handing 700,000 secret documents to whistle blower website Wiki Leaks has recently been cleared of “aiding the enemy” charges, but still faces a maximum sentence of 136 years in military custody.
A few days ago Manning was convicted for 19 of the 21 charges he was charged, including 5 counts of espionage and 5 of theft. In court, he was declared “guilty” over and over again with the charges being listed. In the meantime, the guilty verdicts included 7 out of 8 counts brought under the Espionage Act. Manning was accused of disclosing Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, files on Guantanamo, and embassy cables, with the government claiming that he had reason to believe such data could be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of any foreign nation. The Manning is also known for disclosing a “Collateral Murder” video, which showed American military forces killing journalists and unarmed civilians in Iraq.
In other words, Bradley Manning was found guilty of causing intelligence of the United States to be published on the Internet “wrongfully and wantonly”, having the knowledge that the data in question is accessible to the enemy.
Despite the fact that Manning has already spent almost 3 years in detention (mostly in solitary confinement) and this period will be deducted from the final sentence, it seems that he will be sentenced to many years in military jail. So, it wasn’t much relief that he wasn’t found guilty of “aiding the enemy”.
Manning’s case is known and discussed worldwide, with civil liberties activists, human rights campaigners and journalists claiming that the severity of the charges set an unprecedented shift in the way whistleblowing is treated by the American government.
Julian Assange has issued a statement to call Manning’s trial “a case of national security extremism”, which can’t be tolerated and must be reversed. Assange points out that the last few years have seen the important backlash against the authoritarianism being exercised by the US government, and Bradley’s alleged actions was a reaction against abuse, while Snowden’s actions were a reaction against national security extremism.
While Edward remains in Moscow, being denied the right to travel and the right to asylum, the trial of Manning is validation that going through official channels in the US will have severe implications for Snowden.