February 27th, 2012 by faye
U.S Army Private and WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning has been formally charged with numerous crimes, mainly aiding the enemy by exposing documents about the U.S government.
The 24-year-old former army intelligence analyst postponed his plea to the 22 charges against him, and suspended a decision over whether Manning wanted a military judge or a jury to hear his case. A plea can be deferred right up until the beginning of his military trial. The charges against WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning include: aiding the enemy; wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy; theft of public property or records; transmitting defense information; and fraud and related activity in connection with computers.
The documents Bradley Manning is alleged to have submitted to Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website created by Julian Assange, included Afghanistan and Iraqi war logs, more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from around the world, and a classified military video of a US helicopter attack on civilians in Iraq that killed 11 people, including two Reuters employees.
David Coombs, defense lawyer of Bradley Manning, brought up the due process rights of the WikiLeaks suspect and told the military judge, Colonel Denise Lind, that he would object to any delay in the trial past June. The defense lawyer also argued that the government had said it would be ready by April, but was now saying “it won’t be until 3 August.”
Coombs said Bradley Manning, who has been in custody since his arrest on 25 May 2010, had been in solitary confinement for “635 days”. He noted, “If the government had its way, it would be over 800 days before the trial actually begins.” Additionally, Coombs said that, while the government had cited the complexity of the case and the difficulty in co-ordinating agencies, “the defense would argue that due process rights of my client” had not been satisfied. The military insisted that the extra time taken to come to trial owed to requests by Manning’s own defense team, and the period in which classified documents were being handled.
During the hearing, the defense team of Bradley Manning filed six motions, which included pre-trial publicity; how classified documents would be reviewed; and compelling disclosure. The government filed one motion, concerning the protection of government documents in the hands of the defense team. At one point, Captain Ashden Fein said there had been an “inadvertent spillage” of classified material by the defense team. A military legal spokesman later explained that this was because of material containing classified information being sent over an unclassified system of email. However, the defense denied that a spillage had taken place.
At a preliminary hearing last December, military prosecutors gave evidence which they said showed Bradley Manning downloaded material and electronically transferred it to WikiLeaks. They said the computer logs of the WikiLeaks suspect were full of materials related to the leak, and that Bradley Manning had been in direct contact with Julian Assange.
Defense lawyer Coombs said that others had access to the WikiLeaks suspect work computers in Iraq. He added that the WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning was emotionally disturbed, had confused sexual and gender identities at a time when the US army had a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy prohibiting gay personnel from openly serving in the military. Manning’s defense team also said he should not have have access to classified material because of his aberrant behavior and increasingly violent outbursts witnessed by his superiors.