Bradley Manning: I’m sorry that the information I sent to Wikileaks hurt US interests

Intelligence analyst breaks silence during sentencing hearing at his court martial

Washington

After months of silence, convicted WikiLeaker Bradley Manning took the stand during his sentencing hearing yesterday, apologising for the turmoil his actions had caused and for the damage they had inflicted on the interests of the United States.

“I’m sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that it hurt the United States,” the 25-year-old army private and former intelligence analyst told his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland. Initially he had contended that he wanted to expose wrongdoing and provoke public debate. Yesterday however, he was soft spoken and apparently remorseful, insisting he did not at the time appreciate the broader effects of what he did, or “how I, a junior analyst, could bring about some of the changes I was seeking”.

The 700,000 documents – mainly from the Pentagon and State Department – that Manning downloaded in January 2010 while based in Iraq and sent to WikiLeaks, represent the biggest ever leak of  classified government information in US history. Last month he was convicted of breaching the US Espionage Act and various other offences and could face up to 90 years in jail.

His words yesterday, his first of substance since the trial began, came as an unsworn statement, meaning that he cannot be cross-examined by military prosecutors, although they will be able to deliver a formal rebuttal later in the hearing. A sentence will not be handed down until next week at the earliest.

Manning’s testimony came after defence lawyers had sought to show that his superior officers had ignored signs that his mental health was deteriorating, despite repeated instances of erratic behaviour. According to defence witnesses, he would lapse into “catatonic” behaviour, or react furiously to the most minor complaint about his conduct. On another occasion he sent a supervisor a photo of himself dressed as a woman.

Before Manning took the stand, an army psychologist testified yesterday that he felt isolated because he was wrestling with his gender identity. The stress Manning had felt from his job as a low-level intelligence analyst was made worse by being in the “hyper masculine environment” of a combat zone, said Captain Michael Worsley, who treated Manning from December 2009 to May 2010 during his deployment in Iraq.

Eventually, Captain Worsley  continued, he received an email from Manning showing him dressed as a woman, wearing a blonde wig and lipstick. The photo was attached to a letter titled “My problem,” in which Manning described his confusion over his gender, and his hope that a military career would “get rid of it.”

Worsley told the court martial that the private had “little to no support base,” in his unit, which was already understaffed at the time. “With no coping skills, the pressure would have been incredible.”

During the first phase of the court-martial, prosecutors argued that Manning was an arrogant and soldier who did what he did in the full knowledge that the documents would become known to al-Q’aida militants and thus harm the US. He is expected to receive a lengthy jail term, though not he effective life imprisonment the prosecution is seeking.After months of silence, convicted WikiLeaker Bradley Manning took the stand during his sentencing hearing yesterday, apologising for the turmoil his actions had caused and for the damage they had inflicted on the interests of the United States.

“I’m sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that it hurt the United States,” the 25-year-old army private and former intelligence analyst told his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland. Initially he had contended that he wanted to expose wrongdoing and provoke public debate. Yesterday however, he was soft spoken and apparently remorseful, insisting he did not at the time appreciate the broader effects of what he did, or “how I, a junior analyst, could bring about some of the changes I was seeking”.

The 700,000 documents – mainly from the Pentagon and State Department – that Manning downloaded in January 2010 while based in Iraq and sent to WikiLeaks, represent the biggest ever leak of  classified government information in US history. Last month he was convicted of breaching the US Espionage Act and various other offences and could face up to 90 years in jail.

His words yesterday, his first of substance since the trial began, came as an unsworn statement, meaning that he cannot be cross-examined by military prosecutors, although they will be able to deliver a formal rebuttal later in the hearing. A sentence will not be handed down until next week at the earliest.

Manning’s testimony came after defence lawyers had sought to show that his superior officers had ignored signs that his mental health was deteriorating, despite repeated instances of erratic behaviour. According to defence witnesses, he would lapse into “catatonic” behaviour, or react furiously to the most minor complaint about his conduct. On another occasion he sent a supervisor a photo of himself dressed as a woman.

Before Manning took the stand, an army psychologist testified yesterday that he felt isolated because he was wrestling with his gender identity. The stress Manning had felt from his job as a low-level intelligence analyst was made worse by being in the “hyper masculine environment” of a combat zone, said Captain Michael Worsley, who treated Manning from December 2009 to May 2010 during his deployment in Iraq.

Eventually, Captain Worsley  continued, he received an email from Manning showing him dressed as a woman, wearing a blonde wig and lipstick. The photo was attached to a letter titled “My problem,” in which Manning described his confusion over his gender, and his hope that a military career would “get rid of it.”

Worsley told the court martial that the private had “little to no support base,” in his unit, which was already understaffed at the time. “With no coping skills, the pressure would have been incredible.”

During the first phase of the court-martial, prosecutors argued that Manning was an arrogant and soldier who did what he did in the full knowledge that the documents would become known to al-Q’aida militants and thus harm the US. He is expected to receive a lengthy jail term, though not he effective life imprisonment the prosecution is seeking.

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