, FORT MEADE, July 30 – Bradley Manning, the US soldier on trial for leaking a massive trove of secret government files to WikiLeaks, arrived at a military tribunal Tuesday to learn his fate.
Military judge Denise Lind plans to issue a verdict at 1700 GMT. Manning has pleaded guilty to some of the lesser charges against him, and will be sentenced next month.
Lind has to rule on whether Manning is a traitor who spied on his own country and aided America’s enemies or a whistleblower who shone a spotlight on what he felt was government misconduct.
If he is convicted of the most serious charge against him, that of aiding the enemy, he could be jailed for life.
And convictions on any or all of the more minor charges against him could add up to a hefty term.
“I am not optimistic,” said Nathan Fuller, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network and one of around 40 protesters who gathered outside the Fort Meade military base where the trial is taking place.
“The judge has sided with the government on several occasions, even allowing the prosecution to change the wording of some charges last week, even after all the evidence had been heard,” he said.
Fuller said the verdict had implications reaching beyond Manning’s own fate.
“If people cannot make abuses of power known to the public through legitimate news organizations then there is a problem the government is not going to be transparent on its own,” he argued.
Joel Greenfield, a 23 year old electrician, drove more than 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) from Los Angeles to attend Tuesday’s hearing.