Bradley Manning Found Not Guilty of Aiding the Enemy

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Carol Hills: I'm Carol Hills in for Marco Werman, this is The World. This was judgement day for Army Private Bradley Manning, the man behind the largest leak of classified information in US history. Manning admitted to providing a massive trove of sensitive government documents to the anti secrecy group Wikileaks back in 2010. He still faced a seven week court martial and today, a military judge presiding over the case read her verdict. The 25-year-old former intelligence analyst was acquitted of the most serious charge against him, but he was convicted of most of the others. Ed Pilkington of Britain's Guardian newspaper was at the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland. What was the reaction in the courtroom when the verdict was read?

Ed Pilkington: Well, it was a very aromatic moment. I mean bear in mind we've been building up to this for about three years, more than three years since he was arrested in Iraq. And that the actual court martial has been going on for almost two years, so there's a lot of pent-up energy in the room. And he began speaking, Col. Denise Lind, the judge, she speaks very fast, very curt fashion. She doesn't take court lightly, this judge. She began with this extraordinary and most important charge, aiding the enemy, and she declared not guilty, and there was a sigh of relief across Manning's supporters in the courtroom. But then immediately she went into a long list of charge after charge, after about 20 charges, and when she kept saying guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, just went on and one, and you could sort of feel the temperature of the room fall as people realized that although he got off the most serious count, he now faces the prospect cumulatively from all these charges, a very long time in military jail.

Hills: What about Bradley Manning, how did he look when the verdict was read?

Pilkington: Well, he's been extraordinarily controlled throughout this trial and he gave nothing away. He sits there listening intently, but he doesn't respond in his body language to what's happening around him. One can only imagine because you know, to begin by hearing that you've been found not guilty of the main charge against you, which carries a life sentence, giving you hope…and then after that immediately to have all these guilty verdicts read out to you, carrying by my reckoning a possible maximum sentence of 130 years in a military jail, that must have been an extraordinary emotional seesaw for him to have been on.

Hills: Did he have family members there?

Pilkington: I don't know were family members there, but it's not easy to tell exactly who's in the courtroom. I have, however, had contact with his aunt, who's based in VA, and she told me that the family is very disappointed by the verdict. They clearly realize that he's facing a very serious situation of prolonged jail time, but they were relieved by the verdict of not guilty on aiding the enemy because they thought it was really important recognition that Bradley Manning had not ever intended to give benefit to the enemy. All he wanted to do was to inspire a debate among the American people.

Hills: Ed Pilkington has been following the trial of Bradley Manning at Fort Meade for the British newspaper, The Guardian. Bradley Manning was today convicted of espionage and other charges by a court martial. Thanks so much, Ed.

Pilkington: Thanks a lot.