Facing up to 90 years in prison, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning apologized Wednesday for passing classified materials to WikiLeaks while he was an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010.
"I'm sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that it hurt the United States," Manning said in a statement after taking the stand at Fort Meade, Md., during the sentencing phase of his court-martial. "I'm apologizing for the unexpected results of my actions. The last three years have been a learning experience for me."
The 25-year-old Manning, wearing his dress uniform, said he understood his actions at the time, believing that the revelations would harm troops in Iraq and Afghanistan or national security. But his views changed.
"I should have worked more aggressively within the system. Unfortunately, I can't go back and change things," he said, breaking his silence at the trial.
"I understand I must pay a price for my decisions," he added. "I want to be a better person, to go to college, to get a degree and to have a meaningful relationship with my sister and her family."
Because the statement was not sworn, he cannot be cross-examined by prosecutors, the Associated Press noted.
Manning was convicted July 30 of passing more than 700,000 documents, combat videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange. But he was acquitted of the most serious charge: aiding the enemy.
The military judge, Col. Denise Lind, found Manning guilty of 19 of 21 charges, including five counts of theft, six counts of espionage, a computer fraud charge and other military infractions. He pleaded guilty in February to misusing classified information, charges that carried a maximum prison term of 20 years.
The defense portrayed Manning a gender-conflicted gay man struggling to serve in the military before the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. They said he had exhibited mental health issues that should have prevented his commanders from sending him to Iraq to handle sensitive information.
Earlier Wednesday, Capt. Michael Worsley, a therapist, testified that Manning was under great duress when he revealed his homosexuality to him.
"You put him in that kind of hyper-masculine environment, if you will, with little support and few coping skills, the pressure would have been difficult to say the least," Worsley said. "It would have been incredible."
"I questioned why (commanders) would want to leave somebody in a position with the issue they had," he said.