Army Colonel Denise Lind began her deliberations Friday evening and scheduled the announcement of her verdict, wire services reported, following nearly two months of testimony and evidence against Manning, the 25-year-old soldier who could, if convicted, spend the rest of his life in a military prison with no possibility of parole. While fighting the espionage charge, he has pled guilty to the lesser charge of mishandling government property, for which he faces a possible 20 years of imprisonment.
Military prosecutors have called Manning's distribution of materials, including classified combat videos, State Department cables, and terrorist prisoner assessments, the greatest breach of U.S. secrets in history. Manning's lawyers have argued that their client is not a traitor, but a whistleblower who discovered and exposed unlawful government conduct during his assignment as an intelligence analyst in a unit based southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. The most damning and controversial of the materials published by Wikileaks has been a video shot from aboard a U.S aircraft showing gunners aboard the plane firing on and killing several civilians, including a news cameraman, in Baghdad. The video was released on YouTube and went viral on the Internet.
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Photo of Bradley Manning: AP Images