U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning on Thursday pleaded guilty to leaking classified material to the public, but pleaded not guilty to aiding the enemy, a charge that carries much heavier penalties.
Manning, the alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, plead guilty to unauthorized possession and willful communication of classified material to unauthorized persons.
In a courtroom statement, Manning told military judge Denise Lind that he “believed and still believe these are some of the most important documents of our time,” and that he “only wanted documents I was absolutely sure wouldn’t cause harm to the United States.”
Manning claimed that “No one from WikiLeaks pressured me” to leak the material, and in fact that he wanted to give the documents to The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Reuters, but they were all uninterested in what he had to offer.
Manning added that he “became depressed with the situation we were mired in” in Iraq.
Regarding the video of a helicopter gunship shooting what appear to be journalists and wounded individuals in Iraq, entitled Collateral Murder by WikiLeaks, Manning said the “most alarming part to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust,” and that those in the video “seemed to not value human life by referring to them as ‘dead bastards.'”
“I was disturbed by the response to injured children,” Manning added.
“I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan was a target that needed to be engaged and neutralized,” he said, adding that he had “accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”
In his guilty plea, Manning admitted to leaking 10 separate materials, each of which carry a maximum sentence of two years, meaning Manning could face a maximum of 20 years in prison if the judge accepts his plea.
This article drew upon reporting by Nathan Fuller (@nathanLfuller).
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