Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, would be willing to plead guilty to some charges ahead of his court-martial hearing, his lawyer said Thursday. Manning is facing life in prison if found guilty.
Private First Class Bradley Manning has been in military custody since May 26, 2010, for his role in leaking thousands of government and military documents and cables to WikiLeaks, reports RT. Manning is facing 22 charges, including violations of the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuses Act, reports The Guardian. The most serious of these charges, “aiding the enemy,” carries a possible life term.
Manning would be willing to plead guilty under a legal process known as "pleading by exceptions and substitutions," his attorney David Coombs said. That does not mean Manning is admitting any of the 22 specific charges. According to Coombs, “PFC 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.”
This is the first time Manning has publicly admitted playing a role in leaking documents to WikiLeaks, notes The Guardian.
If the plea is accepted, Manning would admit some of the lesser charges and avoid more serious ones like the violations of the Espionage Act, reports RT.
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WikiLeaks, and its founder Julian Assange, gained worldwide fame in 2010 with the release of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables regarding civilian casualties, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as videos which included footage of a questionable U.S. airstrike as well as the killings of two unarmed Reuters reporters, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, in 2007.
Manning's court-martial is currently scheduled to start Feb. 4, 2013. According to Coombs, Manning has elected to be tried by a military judge and without a jury.