FORT MEADE, Md. — Private First Class Bradley Manning apologized Wednesday for leaking 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks, saying at the sentencing portion of his trial that while he “believed it was going to help people, not hurt people,” he now realized that it was wrong.
“I’m sorry,” Manning told the judge. “I’m sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that they hurt the United States. At the time of the decision, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues, issues that are ongoing.”
But while those issues — a reference to his crisis over his sexuality, which he was confronting while on a military deployment in a combat zone — have caused him considerable difficulties, he said, he was responsible for his actions.
He also told the judge, Colonel Denise Lind, that he knew he had to pay a price but hoped that she would see him as a good person.
He said he hoped to someday get out of prison, earn a college degree, have a meaningful relationship with his family, and be a productive member of society.
Manning was convicted last month of violating the Espionage Act and several other charges. Although he was acquitted of “aiding the enemy,” he faces up to 90 years in prison.
Manning’s three-minute statement was not sworn, meaning that prosecutors could not cross-examine him.
It was a highlight of the final day of the sentencing phase of the trial in which the defense sought to portray him in human terms.
Several family members gave emotional testimony about Manning’s troubled childhood. Though he often showed little reaction to court proceedings during most of the 2½-month court martial, Manning appeared to struggle to contain his emotions several times Wednesday during testimony from his sister, an aunt, and two mental health counselors, one who treated him and another who diagnosed him with several problems.
The judge will impose the sentence, though exactly when is unclear.
The next session, for any prosecution rebuttal testimony, is set for Friday.