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GI pleads guilty in WikiLeaks case, faces 20 years

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013
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"The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust the aerial weapons team happened to have," Manning said, adding that the soldiers' actions "seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass."

As for the State Department cables, he said they "documented backdoor deals and criminality that didn't reflect the so-called leader of the free world."

"I thought these cables were a prime example of the need for a more open diplomacy," Manning said. "I believed that these cables would not damage the United States. However, I believed these cables would be embarrassing."

The battlefield reports were the first documents Manning decided to leak. He said he sent them to WikiLeaks after contacting The Washington Post and The New York Times. He said he felt a reporter at the Post didn't take him seriously, and a message he left for news tips at the Times was not returned.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said Thursday of the purported phone call: "This is news to us."

The Obama administration has said the release of the documents threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America's relations with other governments. The administration has aggressively pursued people accused of leaking classified material, and Manning's is the highest-profile case.

Manning has been embraced by some left-leaning activists as a whistle-blowing hero whose actions exposed war crimes and helped trigger the Middle Eastern pro-democracy uprisings known as the Arab Spring in 2010. He has spent more than 1,000 days in custody.

The soldier told the court that he corresponded online with someone he believed to be WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange but never confirmed the person's identity.

WikiLeaks has been careful never to confirm or deny Manning was the source of the documents.

Reached by telephone in Britain on Thursday, Assange would not say whether he had any dealings with Manning but called him a political prisoner and said his prosecution was part of an effort by the U.S. to clamp down on criticism of its military and foreign policy.

Assange himself remains under investigation by the U.S. and has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the better part of a year to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.

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Associated Press Writer Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.

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Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols