Gisteren was de laatste dag van de verdediging van Manning, die terecht staat voor het lekken van grote hoeveelheden gevoelige gegevens. Aan het einde van de dag mocht Manning zelf een korte verklaring geven. Hij richtte zich tot de rechter en bood zijn excuses aan voor zijn acties. Manning hoopt dat hij boete kan doen en uiteindelijk een productieve rol in de samenleving kan innemen.
Mocht Manning veroordeeld worden onder de Espionage Act en de Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, dan kan hij in theorie maximaal 136 jaar achter de tralies belanden. Wel heeft de rechtbank inmiddels de maximale straf teruggebracht tot 90 jaar, omdat enkele aanklachten elkaar zouden overlappen.
WikiLeaks heeft inmiddels gereageerd op Mannings verklaring. De organisatie is van mening dat Manning gedwongen is zijn excuses aan de overheid te maken. De organisatie blijft vol achter Manning staan en pleit voor zijn vrijlating.
De volledige, Engelse slotverklaring van Manning is hieronder te vinden.
"First, your Honor, I want to start off with an apology. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that I hurt the United States. At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues. Although they have caused me considerable difficulty in my life, these issues do not excuse my actions. I understood what I was doing and the decisions I made. However, I did not truly appreciate the broader effects of my actions. Those effects are clear to me now, through both self-reflection during my confinement in its various forms and through the merits and sentencing testimony I've seen here. I'm sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions.
When I made these decisions, I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people. The last three years have been a learning experience. I look back at my decisions and wonder how could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority. In retrospect I should have worked more aggressively inside the system.
As we discussed during the providence statement, I had options and I should have used these options. Unfortunately, I can't go back and change these actions. I can only go forward. I want to go forward. Before I can do that, though, I understand that I must pay a price for my decisions and actions.
Once I have paid that price I hope to one day live in the manner that I haven't been able to in the past. I want to be a better person, go to college, get a degree and have a meaningful relationship with my sister, my sister's family, and my family. I want to be a positive influence in their lives, just as my aunt Debra has been to me. I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but I know that I can and will be a better person. I hope you can give me the opportunity to prove -- not through words, but through conduct -- that I am a good person, and that I can return to a productive place in society.
Thank you, your Honor."