Manning told a military judge at Fort Meade in Maryland he is sorry he "hurt people and hurt the United States," the Los Angeles Times reported. He could be sentenced to decades in prison for leaking thousands of pages of documents, including State Department diplomatic cables, to WikiLeaks.
Col. Denise Lind found Manning had not aided the enemy, the most serious charge against him. But she convicted him of violations of the Espionage Act for stealing and releasing the documents.
Manning choked up frequently while reading from a draft written by hand. He gave what was called an unsworn statement, which meant he could not be cross-examined.
"I'm sorry for the unintended consequences of my actions," he said. "When I made these decisions, I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people. I look back at my decisions and wonder how could I, a junior analyst, believe I could change the world."
Manning said he hopes for a short enough sentence that he can show he can be "a better person."
WikiLeaks said in a statement, "Mr. Manning's apology is a statement extorted from him under the overbearing weight of the United States military justice system."
His attorneys have been putting on witnesses in an effort to reduce his sentence. Before Manning himself spoke, his older sister, Casey Major, said she often changed her brother's diapers and fed him because Manning's mother refused to get up at night.
Major, 11 years older than her brother, said his mother and father were both drunks and were frequently passed out.
Major testified before her brother read his statement. She wept when she was shown pictures of Manning as a child.
An aunt also spoke, testifying after her nephew.