Ruling due on charges against WikiLeaks suspect

June 8, 2012 2:52 pm


US Army Private Bradley Manning leaves a military court on June 6/AFP
FORT Meade, Maryland, Jun 8 – The US soldier accused of spilling a trove of US intelligence secrets to the WikiLeaks website is to learn on Friday whether some of the charges against him will be dismissed.

On the third and final day of preliminary hearings at Fort Meade – an army base outside the US capital – Judge Denise Lind is due to rule on defence motions to dismiss 10 of 22 charges against private Bradley Manning.

Manning’s lawyers have asked Lind to abandon eight charges of unauthorised possession and disclosure of classified information, saying the government used “unconstitutionally vague” language in those counts.

They also say that prosecutors wrongly claim that Manning exceeded his authorisation to use a Defence Department intranet system – as alleged in two other charges.

“Every person who has downloaded a music, a video, a game has exceeded its authorised access,” Manning’s civil attorney David Coombs told the court on Thursday.

But prosecutor Captain Joe Morrow contended that Manning’s mass download from a SIPRNet computer was “something entirely different.”

The 24-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of aiding the enemy by handing hundreds of thousands of classified documents – including military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and sensitive diplomatic cables – to the WikiLeaks website.

The leak triggered a diplomatic firestorm that left US officials red-faced over criticism of both allies and foes.

The junior intelligence analyst, whose trial is set to begin on September 21, has not yet entered a plea.


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