On Wednesday, Pfc. Bradley Manning, faced with the impending prospect of almost 90 years in prison, pleaded with the military judge to give him a chance to attend college and become a citizen who could contribute to the country.
Just after taking the stand, he told the military judge, “I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I am sorry that they hurt the United States.”
Immediately after, WikiLeaks found Julian Assange issued a statement saying, “Mr. Manning’s apology is a statement extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system. It took three years and millions of dollars to extract two minutes of tactical remorse from this brave soldier.”
David Coombs, Mannings’ defense attorney told his supporters that “His one goal was to make this world a better place.”
Manning appeared to be reading out from a prepared statement, and looked up from the papers he held in his hand several times to look at the judge to stress certain points. Since the statement is unsworn, he can still be cross-examined by prosecutors.
Manning said that when he leaked the information he did, he understood his actions, but he did not believe that his actions would cause harm to U.S.
He also said that he now realizes that he should have drawn attention to his concerns within the system about how the war was being waged. He also said that he wanted to go to college and get an opportunity to become a more contributing member of the society.
Manning’s apology can pave the way for leniency during his sentencing.
More than 46 international journalists were present at the hearing with many spectators wearing black T-shirts with “Truth” emblazoned across them.