FORT MEADE, FLORIDA – Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of espionage, was “upset” about the plight of Iraqi civilians before he handed over a trove of secret files to WikiLeaks, a witness testified Monday.
The army private was dismayed over an incident in which 15 Iraqi civilians had been jailed — with U.S. backing — for handing out pamphlets criticizing the government, said Sgt. David Sadtler, who helped oversee Manning’s work as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad. Manning “was concerned that this was happening,” said Sadtler, who was called as a witness for the defense. “He was upset at the situation.”
Manning’s lawyers focused on the episode as they began to present the case for the defense, painting a picture of a conscientious young man bothered by injustice and eager to shed light on U.S. foreign policy.
Sadtler said Manning was up on global events and that other troops in his unit would come to him “if they needed to know what was going on in the world.”
Manning has admitted to giving WikiLeaks more than 700,000 secret military intelligence files and diplomatic cables. He has pleaded guilty to lesser offenses that could carry a 20-year prison sentence. But he is contesting 21 other charges, including the most serious count that he knew he was “aiding the enemy” by funneling the files to the website.