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U.S. soldier goes on trial in WikiLeaks case
From: Jeffrey Walton <noloader () gmail com>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2013 13:43:52 -0400


(Reuters) - The American soldier accused of providing more than
700,000 secret documents to the WikiLeaks website went on trial on
Monday charged with the biggest leak of classified information in U.S.

Private First Class Bradley Manning, 25, is an intelligence analyst
who faces a possible life sentence without parole if convicted for the
2010 leak that outraged the United States government.

Manning wore a dress black uniform and sat at the defense table
between his lawyers at his court-martial in Maryland, where he faces
21 counts, including the most serious one of aiding the enemy, and
prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917.

The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, said last month she would close parts
of the trial to the public to protect classified material.

Lind on Monday began the trial by asking Manning a number of
procedural questions, including whether he was willing to have the
case decided by a judge rather than a jury and whether he was
satisfied with his defense team.

"Yes, your honor," replied Manning, who 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, an
anti-secrecy website. WikiLeaks began exposing the secrets the same
year, stunning diplomats and U.S. officials who said the leaks
endangered lives.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean
Embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden,
where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and
sexual assault. Assange denies the allegations.

Manning pleaded guilty in court in February to 10 lesser charges that
he was the source of the WikiLeaks release. He said he had released
the files to start a domestic debate on the military and on foreign
policy in general.

Prosecutors rejected the pleas and are pursuing their original charges.

Civil liberties groups have argued that the court is restricting
access to the case by withholding court documents and other
information about proceedings from the public.

Manning's court-martial at Fort Meade, Maryland, about 30 miles
northeast of Washington, is expected to run until at least late
August. Prosecutors have said they expect to call more than 100

The courtroom, which can seat about 40 people, was crowded on Monday
with media and onlookers, including Cornel West, a civil rights and
political activist who has taught at Yale, Harvard, Princeton and
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.

"I'm here to have solidarity with my devoted brother Bradley Manning,"
West said outside the courtroom. "I'm going to be here as often as I
can. My spirit will be here. He is a courageous young brother."

Also at Fort Meade, WikiLeaks stationed a truck in the parking lot
with a sign reading, "Mobile information collection unit."
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