Daniel Ellsberg talks to ABC7 News about Manning

July 30, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
On Tuesday former intelligence analyst U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was found guilty of espionage, theft and computer fraud charges after he leaked thousands of top secret documents to WikiLeaks. The maximum possible sentence for his crimes is 136 years. It's a case with parallels to The Pentagon Papers more than 40 years ago.

ABC7 News spoke to Bay Area resident Daniel Ellsberg who leaked The Pentagon Papers decades ago. He believes the laws Manning was convicted of breaking are unconstitutional and he says the entire case was designed to put a chill on investigative journalism that digs for the truth. He is not the only one who thinks justice wasn't done.

A few dozen people rallied at Powell and Market Streets in San Francisco Tuesday pleased that Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy, but upset at the other convictions.

"Some of those charges were designed to punish spies, people that should be punished. Bradley Manning, on the other hand, was a whistleblower who received nothing in return for providing information for the public good to the media," said Jeff Paterson, a Manning supporter.

It was a mixed verdict for the 25-year-old private first class. The judge cleared him of aiding the enemy but convicted him of 20 of 22 major charges including espionage, theft, and computer fraud. He revealed a video of U.S. troops firing on civilians in Iraq and downloaded thousands of documents he gave to WikiLeaks.

"This is the first-ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower in the United States. It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism," said Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder.

"He has been convicted of charges that I was faced with 40 years ago," said Ellsberg.

Ellsberg, an East Bay resident, leaked The Pentagon Papers which showed how the U.S. Government lied about the Vietnam War.

"Journalism and the free press and democracy dodged a bullet today when the aiding the enemy charge was dropped, but it is still under attack," said Ellsberg.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden says Manning harmed national security.

"This is the most significant leak of classified information in the history of the republic. So he put real people at real risk," said Hayden.

The sentencing phase begins on Wednesday.

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