Bradley Manning, the Army private arrested in the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that could send him to prison for 20 years, saying he was trying to expose the American military’s “blood lust” and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Military prosecutors said they plan to move forward with a court-martial on 12 remaining charges against him, including aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.
It was the first time Manning, a 25-year-old former intelligence analyst in Baghdad, directly admitted leaking the material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and detailed the frustrations that led him to do it.
The judge, Col. Denise Lind, accepted his plea to 10 charges involving illegal possession or distribution of classified material. Manning was allowed to plead guilty under military regulations instead of federal espionage law, which knocked the potential sentence down from 92 years.
He will not be sentenced until his court-martial on the other charges is over.