US: Gay solider Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy

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Gay US solider Bradley Manning, accused of leaking large numbers of secret documents to Wikileaks, has been found not guilty of aiding the enemy – but he has been found guilty on five espionage counts.

His conviction on Tuesday means he could still face a lengthy prison sentence.

Manning has also been found guilty of five theft charges – in a combined total of 20 offences.

In May 2011, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell described Manning as a “gay hero” and a “human rights defender”.

Manning had previously claimed that he was bullied for being gay during his time in the US Army – and he was reportedly disowned by his family after coming out.

In 2011, his father revealed he had “twisted his arm” to get him to join the army.

He said: “He didn’t want to join. But he needed structure in his life, he was aimless. I knew in my own life that joining the navy was the only thing that gave me structure, and everything’s been fine since then.”

The Obama administration has said the leaks threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources.

Supporters, who consider Manning a whistleblower who exposed war crimes and helped trigger the upheavals of the Arab Spring, held events to mark his 1,000th day of detention, earlier this year.

Manning will be sentenced on Wednesday.