Chelsea Manning used to be an intelligence analyst for the US army. Now, aged 25, she faces a lifetime in jail with no chance of parole.
Chelsea faces 21 charges—all relating to his leaking of files about US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq to the Wikileaks website.
Her court martial began in Maryland on Monday of this week.
Chelsea does not deny leaking the materials, which include 500,000 battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, she called the “War Logs”.
She was horrified at what she was seeing and reading about what the US was doing through her job.
She wanted to provoke public debate about US actions in the wars.
At a pre-trial hearing in February of this year she said, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”
One of the leaks was a clip of video footage of a US Apache helicopter crew killing 12 people, including two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in 2007.
One of the crew is heard referring to the casualities as “dead bastards”.
Chelsea said, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust the aerial weapons team happened to have.”
She compared it to a child “torturing ants with a magnifying glass”.
Chelsea is pleading not guilty to the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy”.
The prosecution claims that Chelsea “knowingly gave intelligence information” to Al Qaida because once it was online Al Qaida had access to it.
Chelsea has suffered torture during his imprisonment since his arrest in Iraq in May 2010.
For the first ten months she was kept in solitary confinement. She was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction and sunlight, and was often forced to stay completely naked.
United Nations investigator on torture, Juan Mendez carried out a 14 month investigation after complaints about Bradley’s treatment.
He concluded that Chelsea had suffered “cruel and inhuman” treatment.
A judge has ruled that Chelsea will get a 112-day reduction in any jail sentence she receives because of this treatment.
Professor Laurence Tribe, who was until recently a senior advisor to the US Justice Department, has also protested over Bradley’s treatment.
Tribe was a Harvard professor who taught president Barack Obama.
Protesters confronted Obama about Chelsea's treatment at a fundraiser event in April 2011. Obama’s response was that Chelsea “broke the law”.
No trial to confirm innocence or guilt had taken place at the time.
As Chelsea faces court martial, US troops still occupy Afghanistan and the crimes of US imperialism go unpunished.
But Chelsea is standing firm. She described his feelings after sending the files to Wikileaks.
She said, “I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and what I had read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan every day.”