Bradley Manning is naturally adept at computers, smart and opinionated, even brash, according to those who say they know him.
It's been almost three years since Bradley Manning was tossed into solitary confinement at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, facing allegations that he facilitated the largest-ever intelligence leak in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, a court-martial judge found the 25-year-old Army private guilty of most of the charges against him.
However, he was found not guilty on the most serious charge, that of aiding the enemy, which falls under the Espionage Act. He could have been sentenced to life in prison on that charge.
The judge accepted some of the guilty pleas he had entered in February to 10 lesser charges related to the alleged dissemination of about 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks. The leaks dealt with everything from U.S. military strategy in Iraq to State Department cables outlining foreign relationships and included a secret military video from the Iraq war.
The charges to which he's pleaded guilty carry a potential sentence of 20 years behind bars. WikiLeaks, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, has never confirmed Manning was the source of its information.
Since his arrest, Manning has been moved to a military prison cell at Maryland's Fort Meade.
Friends and acquaintances describe Manning as a person who, from a young age, couldn't help but get involved when he perceived an injustice. It was a tendency that sometimes sparked confrontation with authority figures and those who disagreed with him, they say.
According to friends and his own writings on the Internet, Manning is openly gay.
Judging by his Facebook page, the young soldier's politics appear to be left-leaning, and he's an ardent supporter of groups working to achieve full civil rights for gays. Manning listed on his page groups including Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Transgender Equality, and causes such as "Repeal the Ban -- End Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and "No on Prop 8," a California ballot measure that eliminated the right to marry for same-sex couples.
It's unclear if those politics may have had any role in what authorities accuse him of doing.
'A sincere boy'
"ive been so isolated so long ... i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life ... but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive ... smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything ... no-one took any notice of me"
That is an instant message Manning allegedly sent on May 22, 2010, to Adrian Lamo, a 29-year-old former hacker from California who pleaded guilty in 2004 to breaking into The New York Times secure computer network. The chats between Lamo, in California, and Manning, in Iraq, stretched over a few days, and Manning initiated them, Lamo said.
Lamo went to the FBI after Manning allegedly confessed to leaking classified documents. The ex-hacker told CNN he doesn't know why Manning would trust him, a stranger he'd never met.
Lamo confirmed he told Manning the soldier's online conversations could be protected under the California shield law because it could be seen as a conversation with a journalist. Lamo said at the time that he considers himself a journalist and that he made the offer in good faith.
Manning seemed "naive," Lamo said, "easily led," but a "genuine, sincere boy."
"The only thing I know about Bradley Manning, based on his chats, is that he believed he was doing the right thing by releasing that information -- the right thing being, in his mind, to demonstrate that the U.S. had done bad things in war," Lamo said.
Heated arguments, sense of 'justice'
Bradley Manning grew up in Crescent, Okla., a 1.1-square-mile town north of Oklahoma City. His father, Brian, is reportedly a military veteran.