Manning Apologizes for Leaking Documents: Are Autism Symptoms an Excuse?

bradley-manningFormer U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning apologized for leaking 750,000 secret documents to the WikiLeaks website in the hopes of receiving a lighter sentence for his espionage conviction. “I only wanted to help people, not hurt people,” he said. His sentence will be decided by Col. Denise Lind, the judge for the case, who already found Manning not guilty of the more serious charge of aiding the enemy. The maximum sentence he could receive is 90 years in prison.

Manning claims he leaked the documents to expose wrongdoing and provoke discussion about U.S. military and diplomatic affairs, but admits that he went about it the wrong way. A military psychiatrist testified that Manning suffers from emotional problems including gender identity disorder, symptoms of autism, and fetal alcohol syndrome due to his mother’s heavy drinking during her pregnancy with him.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Manning’s apology was nothing more than a way for the U.S. government to humiliate him. “Mr. Manning’s forced decision to apologise to the U. S government in the hope of shaving a decade or more off his sentence must be regarded with compassion and understanding. Mr. Manning’s apology is a statement extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system.”