Bradley Manning WikiLeaks charges upheld

2012-04-25 17:53

Fort Meade - A military judge refused on Wednesday to dismiss the charges against a US Army private accused in the biggest leak of government secrets in the country's history.

Army Colonel Denise Lind denied the defence motion during a pretrial hearing in the court-martial of Pfc Bradley Manning, who is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The defence has filed a separate motion seeking dismissal of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. That offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Lind tentatively scheduled the trial to run from September 21 to October 12.

In seeking the dismissal, Manning's lawyers had argued that prosecutors were so slow in sharing required information with the defence that the only remedy was to throw out the charges.

Prosecutors maintained that they needed time to obtain documents from civilian agencies and search the records for relevant material.

The 24-year-old Manning was ordered court-martialled after he was accused of downloading documents, diplomatic cables and video clips and sending them to WikiLeaks. He was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad when authorities say he copied classified material from government computers in late 2009 and early 2010.

The material WikiLeaks published included cockpit video of a 2007 US Apache helicopter attack that killed a number of civilians, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. The US government says the civilian deaths were accidental.

Manning has been in pretrial confinement since he was charged in May 2010. His treatment at a Marine Corps base, where he was confined 23 hours a day in a single-bed cell, caused support for him to swell in the US and overseas.

For several days in March 2011, Manning was forced to sleep naked, purportedly for injury prevention, before he was issued a suicide-prevention smock.

The brig commander cited safety and security concerns for the treatment.

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