Manning wanted attention for leaks

2013-07-25 21:36
Bradley Manning (File, AP)

Bradley Manning (File, AP)

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Fort Meade - US Army Pfc Bradley Manning betrayed his country's trust and spilled government secrets to make a name for himself, and he knew the material would be seen by al-Qaeda, including its former leader Osama bin Laden, prosecutors said on Thursday in closing arguments.

Major Ashden Fein said the former intelligence analyst in Iraq was not the troubled and naive soldier defence attorneys have made him out to be. Fein displayed a smiling photo of Manning from 2010 - when he was giving sensitive material to WikiLeaks - and said "this is a gleeful, grinning Pfc Manning" who sent battlefield reports to WikiLeaks, accompanied by the message: "Have a good day".

Manning is charged with 21 offences, but the most serious is aiding the enemy, which carries a possible sentence of up to life in prison. His defence attorneys have argued there was no evidence he knew al-Qaeda specifically looked at WikiLeaks.

The 25-year-old has acknowledged giving the anti-secrecy website hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and videos in late 2009 and early 2010. But he says he didn't believe the information would harm troops in Afghanistan and Iraq or threaten national security.

The material included video of a 2007 US Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. A military investigation concluded the troops reasonably mistook the photography equipment for weapons.

Defence attorneys will give their closing arguments later on Thursday.

Fein, the military's lead prosecutor, said Manning had a dog tag with "Humanist" engraved on it, but "the only human Pfc Manning ever cared about was himself."

"The flag meant nothing to him," Fein said.

Prosecutors have presented evidence that digital copies of some of the documents Manning leaked were found in bin Laden's compound when it was raided and the terrorist leader was killed.

Pleaded guilty earlier

Fein also quoted from chat logs between Manning and convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo to try to show the soldier knew he would harm diplomats by releasing the material.

"Hilary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack," Manning told Lamo in a chat cited by Fein.

Lamo turned the soldier in to authorities in May 2010.

A military judge, not a jury, is hearing the case at Manning's request. Army Colonel Denise Lind will deliberate after closing arguments. It's not clear when she will rule.

The judge refused to dismiss theft charges against Manning on Thursday after the defence said prosecutors hadn't proven the allegations. The judge revised some of the theft charges to more accurately describe what was allegedly stolen, prompting the defence to ask for a mistrial.

Lind refused to grant it.

Manning pleaded guilty earlier this year to reduced versions of some charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison for those offences, but prosecutors pressed ahead with the original charges.

Federal authorities also are looking into whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can also be prosecuted. He has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.

Read more on:    wikileaks  |  chelsea manning  |  julian assange  |  us  |  online security  |  privacy

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