WikiLeaks late Wednesday described Bradley Manning’s apology as “forced” but, nonetheless, called on a court to take “compassion” and “understanding” into account during his sentencing.
Earlier Wednesday, the former Army intelligence analyst apologized for leaking thousands of pages of classified information, saying he did not intend to harm U.S. national security. His statement at a sentencing hearing came after Manning was convicted of espionage, among other crimes last month.
“Mr. Manning’s apology is a statement extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system,” WikiLeaks said in a statement. “It took three years and millions of dollars to extract two minutes of tactical remorse from this brave soldier.”
The group made clear it thought Manning had been backed into a corner and was issuing an apology to reduce his sentence. He could face up 90 years in prison.
“The only currency this military court will take is Bradley Manning’s humiliation," the group said. "In light of this, Mr. Manning’s forced decision to apologise to the US government in the hope of shaving a decade or more off his sentence must be regarded with compassion and understanding."
In 2010, Manning leaked State Department cables and war battlefield reports. He escaped the harshest of the charges against him — aiding the enemy — which would have carried a life sentence.
WikiLeaks said it continues to support Manning and again called for his full release.
“The US government admitted that his actions did not physically harm a single person, and he was acquitted of 'aiding the enemy.' His convictions solely relate to his alleged decision to inform the public of war crimes and systematic injustice,” WikiLeaks said.