A US military judge found Wikileaks’ source Private Bradley Manning guilty of several counts of espionage on Tuesday but cleared him of the charge that he ‘aided the enemy.’
Despite being cleared on the most serious charge, Manning will face a lengthy prison term for his breaches of the espionage act when a sentencing hearing begins Wednesday.
In all, Manning was found guilty of 20 of 22 counts related to his leaking of a huge trove of secret US diplomatic cables, government records and military logs to the Wikileaks website.
Miltary judge Colonel Denise Lind said that she would begin sentencing hearings the next day, at the Fort Meade military base outside Washington where the trial was held.
If Lind decides to impose penalties in the higher ranges permitted under the charges, the now 25-year-old Manning could face a de facto life sentence of more than 100 years in jail.
WikiLeaks swiftly denounced the judgement, saying it reflected “dangerous national security extremism from the Obama administration”.
It also said in a reaction posted on Twitter that the conviction of Manning on several counts of espionage set a “very serious new precedent for supplying formation to the press”.