U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning leaked 750,000 documents to Wikileaks. Arrested in 2010, Manning is finally beginning pre-trial hearings this week. He’s become a martyr to those who consider his conditions in jail to be abusive, and a hero to the hacker collective known as Anonymous.
“Patriot” Manning has a long history of mental issues, and was nearly kicked out of the Army during boot camp. While deployed in Iraq, his behavior was so bizarre that the bolt was taken out of his rifle, in fear that he posed a threat to his fellow soldiers. Via BBC News:
Under cross-examination of military investigators, details emerged of incidents during Pte Manning’s deployment as an intelligence analyst in Iraq between November 2009 and his arrest in May 2010.
His defence lawyer, David Coombs, highlighted emails his client had sent to a superior officer explaining that confusion about his gender identity was impacting on his ability to do his job.
Investigators admitted they had found evidence that Pte Manning had created an online alter ego called “Breanna Manning”.
The soldier had also reportedly assaulted a superior, turned over a table, damaged a computer and on another occasion was found “curled up in a ball”.
Manning’s document dump put the lives of numerous U.S. intelligence assets in Iraq and Afghanistan at risk, but that doesn’t seem to matter much to his supporters.
Not everyone is convinced the emotionally-troubled young man deserves to be hailed as a hero.
While he could have faced the death penalty, prosecutors have passed on that option, perhaps taking his fragile mental condition into account. It is unknown just how long Manning’s trial will last, but to his zealous supporters, every second he’s spent in prison is a second too long, no matter how many lives he put at risk.