Bradley Manning, the Army soldier accused of leaking more than a half million confidential U.S. documents to whistleblower website WikiLeaks, has offered to plead guilty to some charges during his ongoing pre-trial hearing.
Pfc. Manning's civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, presented the plea in the preliminary hearing on Wednesday in Fort Meade, Md. No public copy of the plea offer is available yet.
A blog post by Coombs Wednesday night says that PFC Manning is willing to admit guilty to some lesser charges if the military will amend or strike some of the 34 charges against him. There is no plea deal or agreement with the government yet.
"PFC Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses. The Court will consider whether this is a permissible plea," Coombs said on his blog.
Prosecutors charged Manning with disclosing over 260,000 diplomatic cables, more than 90,000 intelligence reports on the war in Afghanistan, and a video of a military helicopter attack. Witnesses have testified that he downloaded and leaked 400,000 Defense Department field reports from Iraq. WikiLeaks published many of the documents while Manning was an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010.
Among the charges that Manning faces, and that Coombs wants dropped, is "aiding the enemy," which can be punishable by life in prison.
In 2010, Manning was identified in chat logs turned over by hacker Adrian Lamo, and evidence of leaked documents were found stored on the hard drive of Manning's MacBook. Manning's prosecutors also say they have transcripts of chat logs between Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Manning has been in pretrial confinement since May 2010, and his trial is not until February 2013. Aside from his plea offer, Manning has also requested to not be tried by a panel of military officers, but by a military judge alone.
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