A judge ruled Monday that a Wikileaks “Most Wanted Leaks” list can be used as evidence in the military trial against Bradley Manning. Prosecutors have contended that the list, as well as several tweets from Wikileaks, would serve in part as proof that Manning’s actions were influenced by the anti-secrecy website and ultimately aided enemies of the US.
Last week, the judge ruled that those tweets from Wikileaks could also be used as evidence, after defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued that their authenticity, and that of Wikileaks’ “The Most Wanted Leaks of 2009” list, could not be verified.
Manning has admitted to leaking more than 700,000 documents to Wikileaks, many of which contained classified information. Included in those materials were more than 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables, war logs, intelligence reports and a war video that has come to be known as the “Collateral Murder” video.
Of the 21 charges Private First Class Manning stands accused, aiding the enemy is the most serious. In February, he offered to plead guilty to ten of the lesser charges related to espionage and computer fraud counts, but the offer was rejected by prosecutors. Manning has denied the charge of aiding the enemy.
The prosecution presented additional evidence on Monday to support its charge that Manning’s leak aided the enemy, citing references to leaked documents on Wikileaks by al-Qaeda terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.
From the Houston Chronicle:
Al-Qaida leaders reveled in WikiLeaks’ publication of reams of classified U.S. documents, urging members to study them before devising ways to attack the United States, according to evidence presented by the prosecution Monday in the court-martial of an Army private who leaked the material.
“By the grace of God the enemy’s interests are today spread all over the place,” Adam Gadahn, an American member of the terrorist group, said in a 2011 al-Qaida propaganda video. The video specifically referred to material published by WikiLeaks, according to a written description of the propaganda piece submitted at the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. The evidence, which both sides agreed was factual, was read into record by lead prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein.
Prosecutors also submitted excerpts from the winter 2010 issue of al-Qaida’s online magazine “Inspire,” which said “anything useful from WikiLeaks is useful for archiving.”
The government presented another uncontested written statement that former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden asked for and received from an associate the Afghanistan battlefield reports that WikiLeaks published. The material was found on digital media seized in the May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Fein said. Bin Laden was killed in the raid.
Manning’s defense attorneys have maintained that the army intelligence analyst was young and naïve, but good-intentioned, and that Manning leaked the documents to Wikileaks not to aid the enemy, but because he wanted to prompt debate about US foreign policy.
From the LA Times:
He [defense attorney Coombs] noted that Manning placed the word “humanist” on the back of his dog tags where religions are signified and said the decision to leak material was his, not Assange’s. “He felt he needed to do something, something to make a difference, from that moment forward,” Coombs said. “He started selecting information he believed the public should see and should hear, and that that would make the world a better place.
“He believed if everyone knew it, it could not be used by the enemy. He started to believe this information should be made public. Americans should know what is happening on a day-to-day basis,” Coombs said.
Coombs said Manning gave WikiLeaks a video of two Reuters journalists killed in a firefight because the military was telling their editors the video did not exist. He said Manning released documents on terror captives because the Obama administration did not close the detainee prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as promised.
“He was hoping to make the world a better place,” Coombs said. “He was 22 years old, he was a little naive. But he was good-intentioned.”
The prosecution is expected to wrap up its side of the case this week.
Unofficial court transcripts are available daily at the trial’s transcripts page on the Freedom of the Press Foundation website.