WikiLeaks suspect Manning seeks dismissal of charges
FORT MEADE, Maryland - Agence France-Presse
Bradley Manning is escorted following a motions hearing in the case US vs. Manning at Fort Meade March 15, 2012 in Maryland. AFP photoLawyers for US soldier Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking secret documents to the WikiLeaks website, will argue for the dismissal of all charges against their client at a pre-trial hearing Tuesday.
Attorneys for the 24 year old US Army private have filed motions asking a military judge to throw out all or some of the 22 counts that allege their client passed along a massive trove of classified documents to the secret-spilling website.
Manning's defense team says that prosecutors have utterly failed to meet their obligations to share relevant information with them and that therefore the whole case must be thrown out.
At this military base northeast of Washington, Manning's lawyers also plan to challenge the most serious charge: that the former intelligence analyst was "aiding the enemy" by allegedly leaking sensitive documents, saying there is no evidence that shows their client had "criminal intent." "PFC Manning expressly disclaimed any intent to help any enemy of the United States" in his online chat logs, his defense lawyer David Coombs wrote in a defense motion.
The government is not claiming that Manning intended to give intelligence to Al-Qaeda but that he understood that if the information was published, it "might be accessible to the enemy and that such information might help the enemy," Coombs wrote.
The "aiding the enemy" charge, known as Article 104, carries a possible death sentence.
The defense lawyers are also seeking to have other charges dismissed on grounds that single criminal violations are being prosecuted as multiple offenses.
Military prosecutors reject the defense lawyers' arguments, saying they have complied with their discovery obligations to share pertinent documents in the case. And they say that even if they have failed in that task, the judge can remedy any problems without throwing out the whole case.
A court-martial date has yet to be set and Manning so far has declined to enter a plea on the counts he faces in a case that involves one of the most serious intelligence breaches in US history.
Manning is accused of passing hundreds of thousands of military field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and US diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks between November 2009 and May 2010, when he served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
The leak of the military documents shed light on civilian deaths, while the diplomatic cables exposed the private remarks of heads of state and candid observations by senior US officials.
The episode embarrassed the US government, and officials said the document dump threatened national security and the lives of foreigners working with the military and US embassies.
WikiLeaks supporters view the site as a whistleblower that exposed US wrongdoing and see Manning as a political prisoner.