Private First Class Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks. Reading from a 35-page statement, Manning said he leaked diplomatic cables to “spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general,” but denies aiding the enemy. Perhaps most revealing, Manning said that he first attempted to go to media outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, but his calls were rerouted to voicemail.
The soldier, who has been held in detention for over 1,000 days, has become an icon of open information and civil liberties. Manning was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after being widely credited for helping to spark the Arab Spring of 2010. Leaked documents corroborated long-held suspicions of Tunisia’s corrupt government, inciting the citizens to overthrow their leader and inspire similar revolutions throughout the Middle East.
While Manning’s lengthy detainment and bouts of solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day have been harshly criticized, a court found that he “has not been denied a speedy trial despite his lengthy pretrial confinement.” President Obama himself once explained that “he broke the law” in an implicit agreement with Manning’s treatment.
Manning, who pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges of misusing classified information, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.