Pfc. Bradley Manning’s espionage conviction on Tuesday was met with varied reactions from supporters and critics of the whistleblower. Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, the website to which Manning fed over 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables as well as a video of a helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007 that killed multiple civilians, condemned the verdict.
“It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism,” Assange told reporters at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he is currently being sheltered. “This has never been a fair trial.”
Christian Stroebele, a German lawmaker for the opposition Green Party, displayed his support of Manning, tweeting, “Manning has won respect by uncovering the U.S.’s murderous warfare in Iraq.”
Many of Manning’s supporters expressed relief that the former soldier was not convicted of his most serious charge. His critics continue to voice their disapproval of his actions, though Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) did tweet his belief that “justice was served today.”
“Pfc Manning (like Snowden) is a criminal who abused classified info, violated public trust, & harmed US security,” Rogers continued.
Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders viewed the verdict in a markedly different light, suggesting that the verdict could be a dire indication of the future of investigative journalism and stating that the verdict made an example of whistleblowers, “against whom the Obama administration has been waging an unprecedented offensive.”
Manning was cleared of his most serious charge of aiding the enemy, which could have borne a life sentence in prison. However, the other counts of which he was convicted could land him in prison for the rest of his life anyway, as he faces a maximum of 128 years in jail. The hearing for his sentencing begins on Wednesday.