Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier accused of providing WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified documents, has pleaded guilty to some of the lesser charges against him and has begun reading a statement explaining his actions in military court today.
The 25-year-old soldier entered guilty pleas to 10 of 22 charges that he is facing, acknowledging that he was the source of the files that WikiLeaks divulged, according to the Los Angeles Times and other press accounts. The lesser charges carry a maximum upper limit of 20 years in prison.
But Manning has pleaded not guilty to the 12 more serious counts, including "aiding the enemy," which could carry a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.
Kevin Gosztola, a blogger who attended the Fort Meade, Md., hearing today, wrote that Manning has begun reading his prepared statement, which said that he tried unsuccessfully to interest the Washington Post, New York Times, and Politico in the documents before providing the Iraq and Afghanistan files to WikiLeaks.
Today's plea was expected: Manning's attorney, David Coombs, in November proposed a partial guilty plea, and the contours of it became more clear during recent court proceedings.
A ruling (PDF) from the court in November said the partial guilty plea will be accepted "to these lesser included offenses if provident." (The military's 2012 Manual for Courts-Martial (PDF) allows defendants to offer hybrid pleas to judges, including "not guilty to an offense as charged, but guilty of a named lesser included offense" and "not guilty of the exceptions, but guilty of the substitutions.")
Update, 12:30 p.m. PT: Here's our followup story describing Manning taking the stand this afternoon to read a statement. He said he hoped his decision to provide the files to WikiLeaks "might cause society to reconsider" the U.S. government's antiterrorism efforts.