Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who gave hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks related to the Iraq war, apologized for the damages his actions may have caused in a statement during the sentencing phase of his court-martial, according to the Washington Post.
"I'm sorry I hurt people. I'm sorry that I hurt the United States," Manning said. "I'm apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people."
Manning was convicted of espionage and other crimes in July and is facing 90 years in prison; he was acquitted of "aiding the enemy," the most serious of the charges, so he is not facing a life sentence. Manning opted to have his fate decided by a judge instead of by a jury and will be sentenced by Judge Denise Lind.
Since his arrest in June 2010 Manning has been almost completely silent. Wednesday's remarks were only the third time he has spoken in public since he was in custody and they lasted less than five minutes, according to the Washington Post.
In his comments the 25-year-old said that he understood that he needed to pay a debt for what he did but that he hoped he would be able to return to society at some point so he could go to college, according to the Washington Post.
"I know I can and will be a better person," Manning said. "I can return to a productive place in society...I have flaws and issues that I have to deal with, but 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 and that I can return to a productive place in society."
During the hearing Manning's defense presented evidence showing that the computer analyst was very troubled mentally and that he should have been deemed unfit for duty. Manning's older sister, Casey Major, followed him on the stand to discuss their childhood, according to NBC News.
Major talked about how as an 11-year-old she often had the responsibility to look after Manning because their parents were alcoholics. Majors told the story about how she had to drive their mother to the hospital after she took an entire bottle of valium and Manning had to keep her awake in the back seat, according to Fox News.
A statement from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested that Manning was forced to make the apology, according to NBC News.
"The only currency this military court will take is Bradley Manning's humiliation," Assange said. "In light of this, Mr. Manning's forced decision to apologize to the U.S. government in the hope of shaving a decade or more off his sentence must be regarded with compassion and understanding.
"Mr. Manning's apology is a statement extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system. It took three years and millions of dollars to extract two minutes of tactical remorse from this brave soldier."