A military judge deciding the fate of Wikileaker Bradley Manning will announce her verdict on Tuesday afternoon.

Army Col. Denise Lind, the judge presiding over the case, has heard arguments from prosecution and defense for the last two months.  Closing arguments ended on Friday.

Manning faces over 20 counts, including charges of espionage and computer fraud.  The most serious charge against him is that of aiding the enemy.  He chose to have a judge decide his case, rather than a jury.

Manning already admitted to leaking more than 700,000 documents to Wikileaks.  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.

The army private offered to plead guilty to ten of the lesser charges related to espionage and computer fraud counts in a pre-trial hearing.  But prosecutors refused to drop the more serious charge of aiding the enemy.

Prosecutors argued that Manning sought attention and that, based on his training, he knew the documents would end up in enemy hands.

From CBS News:

“This is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of documents from classified databases and then dumped that information onto the Internet into the hands of the enemy,” said the prosecutor, Capt. Joe Morrow, during the trial. He said Manning demonstrated a sense of “arrogance” in releasing the information.

The chief prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein, said Manning’s goal was “worldwide distribution.”

Manning “knew the entire world included the enemy, from his training,” Fein said. “He knew he was giving it to the enemy, specifically al Qaeda.”

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence 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:

“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.

In contrast, defense lawyers for Manning have tried to portray him as a whistleblower.  They maintained that he may have been young and naive, but that his actions were well intentioned, as he sought to spark a national dialogue about US foreign policy, according to CBS News.

During closing arguments, Manning’s attorney David Coombs said his client was negligent in releasing the documents but insisted Manning had no “evil intent.”

“He’s not seeking attention,” Coombs said. “He’s willing to accept the price” of his actions.

Manning has said he disclosed the documents to provoke a public debate about the righteousness of America’s wartime conduct. At a pre-trial hearing earlier this year, he accused the American military of “bloodlust,” saying troops and commanders demonstrated a lack of regard for human life as they prosecuted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Coombs portrayed his client as a “guy who cared about human life.”

The judge is expected to announce the verdict at 1pm EDT Tuesday, from the courthouse at Ft. Meade Army Base in Maryland.

Closing argument transcripts are available here.

Follow prior coverage of Bradley Manning at Legal Insurrection here.


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