Fort Meade: US Army Pfc Bradley Manning is a whistleblower who wanted to inform the American public about the troubling things he saw in the war zone, and the soldier is willing to pay the price for giving secrets to WikiLeaks, his defense attorney said on Friday.
During closing arguments, attorney David Coombs disputed what prosecutors said a day earlier, that Manning was a traitor whose only mission as an intelligence analyst was to give classified information to the anti-secrecy website and bask in the attention.
"He`s not seeking attention. He saying he`s willing to accept the price" for what he has done, Coombs said.
Manning, 25, is charged with 21 offenses, but the most serious is aiding the enemy. A conviction on that charge could land him in prison for the rest of his life.
Coombs said the prosecution cherry-picked Manning`s chats with convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo to make their case. He urged the judge to read the entire chat log to put things in context.
For example, he said the prosecution cited a line Manning wrote to Lamo: "If you had unprecedented access to classified networks, 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for eight-plus months, what would you do?"
Coombs pointed out Manning also wrote, "Hypothetical question: If you had free reign over classified networks over a long period of time, if you saw incredible things, awful things, things that belonged in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC, what would you do?"
Lamo turned the soldier in to authorities in May 2010.
Coombs also said Manning`s chat with Lamo about Hillary Clinton having and other diplomats around the world having a heart attack over what was leaked was taken out of context.
A military judge, not a jury, is hearing the case at Manning`s request. Army Col. Denise Lind will deliberate after closing arguments, but it`s not clear when she will rule.
Speaking for more than five hours yesterday, Maj. Ashden Fein told the judge Manning gave secrets to a group of anarchists, knowing the material would be seen by the terrorist group al Qaeda.
"WikiLeaks was merely the platform which Pfc. Manning used to ensure all the information was available for the world, including enemies of the United States," Fein said.