U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, a former Fort Drum soldier, has been acquitted of aiding the enemy for giving classified secrets to WikiLeaks.
The military judge hearing the case, Army Col. Denise Lind, announced the verdict Tuesday. The charge was the most serious of 21 counts. It carried a possible life sentence without parole.
Manning was convicted of five espionage counts, five theft charges, a computer fraud charge and other military infractions.
The 25-year-old Crescent, Okla., native acknowledged giving the anti-secrecy website more than 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, and video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack that killed civilians in Iraq. He said during a pre-trial hearing that he leaked the material to expose what he said was the military's "bloodlust" and disregard for human life.Manning said he didn't believe the information would harm troops in Afghanistan and Iraq or threaten national security.
Manning's sentencing hearing is set to begin Wednesday. He faces up to 128 years in prison.
The judge at the court-martial in Maryland deliberated for about 16 hours over three days before deciding to convict Manning on espionage, theft and computer fraud charges, but not on the charge of aiding the enemy.
Manning stood and faced the judge as she read the decision. She didn't explain her verdict, but said she would release detailed written findings.
A defense lawyer said Manning could have sold the information or given it directly to the enemy, but chose instead to give the material to WikiLeaks to "spark reform" and provoke debate.
Prosecutors said Manning knew the material would be seen by al-Qaida, and that he broke signed agreements to protect the secrets.