A former US Army intelligence expert who investigated the fallout from the handover of classified files to WikiLeaks by Bradley Manning said no one named in the Afghan war logs had been killed.
The testimony put a dent in the government’s case at the start of the sentencing hearing for Manning, the American soldier convicted of espionage for giving hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website headed by Julian Assange.
On Tuesday, Manning, 25, was acquitted of the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy” — a setback for military prosecutors.
But the Army private — responsible for the biggest intelligence leak in US history — was found guilty of espionage, computer fraud and other charges, meaning he could still be jailed for up to 136 years.
Government lawyers, who say Manning betrayed his uniform and his country, are pushing for the maximum jail term, a dishonorable discharge and a fine in the sentencing phase, which could last up to a month.
Pledging to illustrate the impact of Manning’s “criminal conduct” on US forces,” lead prosecutor Major Ashden Fein called to the stand retired brigadier general Robert Carr, a counterintelligence expert.
Carr, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Information Review Task Force put in place after the Manning leaks, told the court martial at Fort Meade outside Washington that the disclosures were damaging.
When asked if he believed the information provided to WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy website, could be used by US adversaries, Carr replied: “Absolutely.”
But when pressed by the defense, Carr admitted that no one listed in the Afghanistan war logs reviewed by his task force had been killed.
But he added that when the logs were reviewed, “the name was not there.”
Military judge Denise Lind, who found Manning guilty and will decide his sentence, then said she would not take into account the testimony about the death.
When asked about leaked documents concerning the detainees at the US ‘war on terror’ prison in Guantanamo Bay, Carr said the inmates were “pretty dangerous people who have dangerous allies.”
He said the leaks had compromised US efforts to repatriate some of the detainees and close the facility.
Each side is expected to present about 10 witnesses — possibly including Manning himself.
Lind confirmed Wednesday that Manning will be credited 1,274 days served to date, including 112 days for “unlawful” pre-trial solitary confinement.
Tuesday’s verdict followed an exhaustive two-month court martial at the Fort Meade military base in Maryland near the US capital.
Manning was working as an intelligence analyst near Baghdad when he was arrested more than three years ago.
After admitting to the leaks earlier this year, Manning was ultimately found guilty of all but two of the 22 counts against him.
The prosecution had argued that Manning’s actions directly benefited Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, but Lind found him not guilty of knowingly aiding the enemy, which would have carried a possible life sentence.
Lind did find him guilty of seven of eight counts he faced under the Espionage Act, including stealing US government property and computer fraud relating to confidential records.
He was also found guilty of “wanton publication of intelligence on the Internet.”
Manning had admitted to leaking hundreds of thousands of classified frontline reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, saying he hoped to inform the public about America’s wars.
Even more embarrassing for Washington, however, was his leak of a massive trove of secret State Department cables from dozens of embassies and consulates spanning several decades.
The diplomatic cables included the candid comments of several world leaders and sent red-faced US diplomats scrambling to contain the damage.
WikiLeaks founder Assange, who remains in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, condemned the guilty verdict, saying it represented “dangerous national security extremism” on the part of President Barack Obama’s White House.