Accused WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning offered in a motion hearing on Wednesday to plead guilty to parts of the charges he faces, in exchange for government prosecutors pursuing lesser charges.
According to statement issued by Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, Manning “is not pleading guilty to the specifications as charged by the Government. Rather, PFC Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses. The Court will consider whether this is a permissible plea.”
The lesser charges are ones “that the judge could agree upon if there is no evidence for the more severe charges,” reports Kevin Gosztola. “Pleading to lesser-included offenses makes it possible to not plea to committing offenses under the Espionage Act or Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Importantly, he can plead guilty without accepting the government’s charge that he ‘aided the enemy’ or ‘exceeded authorized access’ on his computer.”
Almost one year ago, when Manning’s hearings were just beginning, Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg said Manning should be let free for the same reason he was.
“I was the first to face the kind of charges that he’s facing, under the Espionage Act,” Ellsberg said. “In the end, my trial was ended because of gross governmental misconduct against me under President Nixon. This court-martial should be ended now for exactly the same reason.”
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