The judge who will decide the fate of Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused in the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, has reached a verdict, which is scheduled to be announced on Tuesday, according to military officials.
The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, will announce her verdict in the so-called WikiLeaks trial in a courtroom at Fort Meade, Md. at 1 p.m., the officials told NBC News on Monday.
Manning was charged with 21 counts in connection with the leak of some 700,000 classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.
The most serious charge is “aiding the enemy.” which could carry a life sentence. The prosecution chose not to pursue capital punishment, which was an option.
Some of the classified documents leaked by Manning ended up in the hands of Osama bin Laden and were recovered in the raid on his compound by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Prosecutors have argued that Manning is a traitor, while his lawyers have characterized him as a naïve whistleblower who did not know the material he leaked would end up in the hands of terrorists.
In closing arguments in Manning’s court-martial Friday, his lawyer, David Coombs, said that Manning was a well-intentioned young man who was “trying to ply his knowledge to hopefully save lives.”
In a rebuttal, Maj. Ashden Fein, arguing for the Army, said Manning “knew exactly what he was doing” and that his actions represented “general evil intent.”
Lind started her deliberations on Friday after nearly two months of evidence and testimony about the 25-year-old intelligence analyst. Sentencing was expected to be decided starting on Wednesday.
A judge is deciding the case, not a jury, at Manning’s request.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said Friday that if Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy it will be "the end of national security journalism in the United States."
Whatever verdict and sentence is handed down, it will be reviewed and could be reduced by the commander of the Military District of Washington, currently Maj. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Manning was trying 'to hopefully save lives,' lawyer says in final argument
Accused leaker Bradley Manning had 'evil intent,' prosecutors say in closing arguments
First published July 29 2013, 12:07 PM