Bradley Manning acquitted of aiding the enemy

From Wall Street Journal:   FORT MEADE, Md. — A military judge acquitted Pfc. Bradley Manning of the most serious accusation against him—that he aided U.S. enemies—but found him guilty Tuesday on most other charges related to his disclosure of documents to the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks.

The acquittal of Private Manning on the paramount charge affirmed arguments by his lawyers and supporters that leaking documents to the news media or Internet doesn't equate to acting in concert with American foes like al Qaeda.

The decision on that charge came as a setback for the Obama administration, which has been seeking a resounding victory in its campaign to discourage the disclosure of government secrets through an aggressive series of leak prosecutions.

Instead, the outcome was a mixed verdict for both sides. Private Manning's conviction on all but one of the 21 charges other than aiding the enemy ensured he would face a substantial prison sentence but denied prosecutors a clear-cut win.


Also see: A summary of the charges, and Manning verdict brings mixed emotions

Transparency campaigners condemned the harsh sentence in prospect for Bradley Manning, but journalists and lawyers closely associated with the trial were relieved with the acquittal for the most serious charge – that he "aided the enemy" by transmitting state secrets to WikiLeaks.

In a statement, Manning's family said they were disappointed by so many guilty findings – he was deemed to be guilty of 17 of the 22 counts against him in their entirety and three others in an amended form. But the statement, written by a US-based relative, said the family was "happy that Judge Lind agreed with us that Brad never intended to help America's enemies in any way."

Yochai Benkler, a Harvard law professor who has written influentially on the role of WikiLeaks and who was a key defence witness in the trial, said that in finding Manning not guilty of "aiding the enemy" the judge presiding over the case, Colonel Denise Lind, had made an "extremely important decision, under what must have been trying professional conditions, by denying the prosecution's effort to launch the most dangerous assault on investigative journalism and the free press in the area of national security that we have seen in decades."