Pfc. Manning's Espionage Case Hearings to Begin

Friday, 16 Dec 2011 12:11 PM

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The man at the heart of the WikiLeaks case that made public massive amounts of government secrets will appear at pretrial hearings beginning today. The hearings, which could last for days, will determine whether Army Pfc. Bradley Manning will face a court martial, The Washington Post reported.

Manning faces a variety of charges including violating the Espionage Act and aiding the enemy. The charges are enough to send Manning, who turns 24 on Saturday, to prison for life. The hearings at a Military District of Washington courtroom at Fort Meade will determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Among the evidence to be introduced against the former intelligence analyst who held a top-secret clearance are e-mails Manning exchanged with a computer hacker, forensic computer evidence and data from the WikiLeaks web site, the Post reported.

Manning has not been seen in public since his arrest at a forward operating base in Baghdad in 2010. Manning is unlikely to speak at the hearings where witnesses can be called and questioned. To convict on one of the most serious charges, aiding the enemy, prosecutors must  show intent, the Post reported.

“In the chat logs, there’s no specific reference to aiding foreign enemies,” Michael Navarre, a former lieutenant commander in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, told the Post. “The only references are to his desire to have this information out in the public domain.”

Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, is expected to counter the Espionage Act charges by arguing the information did little to damage national security. Prosecutors are also expected to introduce exchanges between Manning and WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, the Post reported.


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