The WikiLeaks sentencing hearing has begun. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was acquitted of the most serious charges he faced. However, he is still facing over 130 years in prison. Manning is accused of publicizing confidential government information through the WikiLeaks website.
Manning allegedly leaked massive amounts of government documentation through the site. He was recently acquitted of aiding the enemy. However, he was found guilty of 20 other serious charges.
As reported by Yahoo News, 20 witnesses will testify for the prosecution in the WikiLeaks sentencing hearing. As much of the evidence in the case is still considered classified, special rules must be followed.
The hearing will be closed to spectators, as many of the witnesses are government officials. Experts in the fields of terrorism and counterintelligence are expected to present evidence against Manning.
Manning is accused of compromising operations in the Middle East, and national security. However, the judge has warned the prosecution and defense not to reveal any information that would further harm critical operations.
Manning contends that he was not trying to cause a national security threat. He explains that the information was released to expose deceit, dishonesty, and “bloodlust,” within the US military and government.
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange has called Manning’s conviction a “dangerous precedent.”
David Coombs, Manning’s attorney, was pleased that his client was acquitted of the most serious charge. He is cautiously optimistic about the sentencing:
“We won the battle, now we need to go win the war… today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire.”
As reported by BBC, the leaked documents include 470,000 battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, 250,000 state department cable messages, and footage of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad. Twelve people were killed in the attack, including a journalist.
As the WikiLeaks sentencing continues, so does the debate. Fans of WikiLeaks contend that citizens have a right to know what the government is doing. Critics insist that exposing the information is a threat to national security.
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