Pfc. Bradley Manning told a military judge during his sentencing hearing Wednesday that he is sorry he hurt the United States by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks and he asked for leniency.
“I’m sorry I hurt people. I’m sorry that I hurt the United States,” said Manning, who was convicted last month of multiple crimes, including violations of the Espionage Act, for turning over the classified material. “I’m apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.”
The former Army intelligence analyst, who served at a forward operating base in Iraq, had not previously expressed regret for his actions, and during trial had justified the leak as necessary to spark a debate about the nation’s preoccupation with “killing and capturing people.”
Speaking publicly for only the third time since he was arrested in Iraq in June 2010, Manning said he had been naive. “I look back at my decisions and wonder, ‘How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?’” said Manning, who spoke for less than five minutes, often in a quavering voice.