The gay US soldier accused of leaking large numbers of secret documents to Wikileaks has pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him.

In court on Thursday, Private First Class Bradley Manning read a statement explaining his actions, saying he did not believe the leaks would harm the US.

“I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information… this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general,” Manning told the court.

He is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of classified war logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

Manning had previously claimed that he was bullied for being gay during his time in the US Army.

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

The 25-year-old denied the most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy, and may still be prosecuted.

Judge Col Denise Lind accepted Manning’s guilty pleas, but prosecutors can still pursue a trial on the remaining 12 charges, including aiding the enemy.

That charge carries a potential life sentence.

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 last Saturday to mark his 1,000th day of detention.