Gay United States Army private Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge against him, July 30. The military court found him guilty of all other charges, including six counts of violating the espionage act, the Washington Blade reports.
The combined charges could add up to 136 years in prison, but military law experts say the judge will likely deliver a much shorter sentence.
Manning was arrested for leaking thousands of classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, a whistleblowing organization. The information leaked included details of civilian killings by American soldiers.
During the trial it was reported that Manning might have leaked the cables out of anger at the American military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell restrictions on openly gay service. Manning’s defence attorney also suggested that the leaks might be related to Manning's questioning his gender identity.
But the Bradley Manning Support Network, which has corresponded with Manning and his family, says Manning’s motivations had to do with American foreign policy and had nothing to do with gender or sexuality.
Gay human rights organizations such as GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and the Human Rights Campaign have been notably silent on Manning’s case. Those who have spoken up are divided. An attempt to make Manning a grand marshal at San Francisco Pride was rejected earlier this year.
“While the national LGBT advocacy organizations shamelessly shower President Obama with praise for allowing openly gay men and women to enlist in the military, their complete silence on the Manning case is indefensible,” gay attorney Philip Fornaci told the Washington Blade last year.
“If Manning did in fact leak information to WikiLeaks as he is accused, he has displayed enormous courage,” Fornaci added.
“I don’t believe the fact that Manning is gay has anything to do with his case,” gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein responded. “What he did was wrong, maybe even treasonous. Making him a gay hero as they tried to do in San Francisco is absurd.”