Private First Class Bradley Manning, the soldier responsible for leaking over 700,000 documents containing classified information to Wikileaks, will finally face military trial this week at Fort Meade, Maryland. Colonel Denise Lind will ultimately decide the soldier’s case.
Manning, an intelligence analyst, was arrested in May 2010 while serving in Iraq. He was charged with downloading intelligence documents, diplomatic cables and combat videos and forwarding them to WikiLeaks, which began releasing the information that year.
Manning testified in February that he had released the files to spark a domestic debate on the military and on foreign policy in general.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said at the time. “I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”
One of the leaked U.S. military videos showed a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad. They included two Reuters news staff, photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh.
The judge in the case, Colonel Denise Lind, said last month she would close parts of the trial to the public to protect classified material. Rather than face a jury, Manning has chosen to have Lind decide his case.
Manning pleaded guilty in court in February to 10 lesser charges that he was the source of the WikiLeaks release. But prosecutors rejected the pleas and are pursuing the original charges.
Last November, Manning took the stand in a pre-trial hearing to recount what his legal defense had described as “unlawful pretrial punishment,” an attempt that was aimed at convincing the judge to dismiss the charges. His attorney presented a partial plea offer at that time – not a plea agreement or government deal, rather, an acceptance of responsibility for a subset of charges through a process known as “pleading by exceptions and substitutions.” While the judge accepted the language in it, prosecutors ultimately decided to move forward with the original charges on all 21 counts. The most serious one includes that of “aiding the enemy.”
Manning’s supporters meanwhile have planned a protest this afternoon that will begin outside the main gate of Fort Meade, where the group will gather and then march along US-175 for about a mile to a rally location. They’re touting worldwide protests in dozens of cities this weekend.
You can check out the #FreeBrad hashtag on Twitter to see what they’re all tweeting – many of them, such as CODEPINK, are updating from live on the ground.
Julian Assange is still hanging out at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he’s been planning his Australian Senate bid while avoiding extradition to Sweden on alleged sex crime charges.
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