Bradley Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, but found guilty of 19 of the 21 counts against him.
Although Manning faces nearly a combined 100 years for the crimes he was convicted of, the fact that he was not convicted of aiding the enemy is an enormous win for whistleblowers around the world.
Information leaked by Manning to WikiLeaks was found in the Bin Laden compound when it was raided by Seal Team Six. However, because the information was leaked does not constitute the intentional aiding of an enemy of the United States.
The prosecution had posited Manning knew the intel would end up in al-Qaeda’s possession.
After warning a courtroom of packed spectators, Colonel Denise Lind delivered her verdict against Manning without disruption. Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said in a statement:
"While we’re relieved that Mr. Manning was acquitted of the most dangerous charge, the ACLU has long held the view that leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Since Manning already pleaded guilty to charges of leaking information – which carry significant punishment – it seems clear that the government was seeking to intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future."
The verdict brings to a close the three year process that began with Manning’s arrest in May 2010