Pfc. Bradley Manning told a military judge during a sentencing hearing Wednesday that he is sorry he hurt the United States, and vowed to be a better person.
Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, asked for leniency.
“I’m sorry that I hurt people. I’m sorry that I hurt the United States,” said Manning. “I’m apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions."
"I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people.”
The former Army intelligence analyst, who served at a forward operating base in Iraq, had not previously expressed any real regret for his actions.
During his trial, he had tried to justify the leak as necessary to spark a debate about the nation’s preoccupation with “killing and capturing people.”
Speaking publicly for only the third time since he was arrested in Iraq in June 2010, Manning said he had been naive in procuring and leaking documents:
“I look back and wonder, ‘How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?’”
Manning, 25, elected to be tried and sentenced by a judge, not a military jury, and Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, will determine his sentence.
Convicted of 19 counts of espionage and other crimes, he faces up to 90 years in prison. He understands he must "pay a price for my decisions and actions."
“I know I can and will be a better person,” he said. “I can return to a productive place in society ... I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with."
"I know that I can and will be a better person. I hope that you can give me the opportunity to prove, not through words, but through conduct, that I am a good person."