Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Julian Assange Calls For Full Acquittal For Manning

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the espionage conviction of U.S. soldier Bradley Manning sets a dangerous precedent and must be reversed.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday (July 30) condemned a military court at Fort Meade for finding U.S. soldier Bradley Manning guilty of 19 charges relating to leaking official documents.

A military judge on Tuesday found Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge he faced for handing over documents to WikiLeaks.

He still likely faces a long jail term for the other counts.

Colonel Denise Lind ruled the 25-year-old Army private first class was guilty of five espionage charges, for the largest unauthorized release of classified U.S. data in the nation's history.

The trove of documents, including battlefield videos and diplomatic cables, was a huge boost to the profile of the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website and Assange.

Tuesday's verdict could be a blow to his efforts to encourage people with access to secret information to release it publicly.

[Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Founder]:
"It is a short-sighted judgement that cannot be tolerated and it must be reversed. It can never be that conveying true information to the public is espionage. It is clear the last few years has seen an important backlash against the authoritarianism being exercised by the United States government... Edward Snowden's actions are clearly also a reaction against national security extremism."

Manning, was working as a low-level intelligence analyst in Baghdad when he was arrested three years ago, could face a hundred-and-thirty-six-year sentence in military prison.

Lind will take up the question of his sentence on Wednesday (July 31).

The U.S. government was pushing for a life sentence without parole, which would have come if Manning had been convicted of aiding the enemy.