A military judge ruled Wednesday to allow a member of the team that raided Osama bin Laden’s compound to testify as a witness in the WikiLeaks trial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who stands accused of leaking U.S. secrets.
According to the government, the witness, presumably a Navy SEAL, collected digital evidence that one of Bin Laden’s associates provided him with documents that Manning acknowledged sending to WikiLeaks, a non-profit website which publishes secrets.
Col. Denise Lind ruled for the prosecution in Manning’s pretrial hearing at Fort Meade Tuesday to let the witness testify.
Manning’s defense argued that receipt of the information does not prove their client aided the enemy.
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Lind disagreed and said it’s the government's job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that information was both given to and received by the enemy.
Manning was arrested on May 26, 2010, and faces 22 charges, including violations of the Espionage Act. At the pretrial hearing, which focuses on evidence, Manning pleaded guilty to several lesser charges.
The government must present evidence to justify the charges at the pretrial hearing, which is taking place through Friday. Manning is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of State Department diplomatic cables, battlefield reports of Iraq and Afghanistan, two battlefield video clips, and other classified records to WikiLeaks while he was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010.
The prosecution says they still intend to convict Manning on the original charges of aiding the enemy, which bring with it a maximum sentence of life in prison.
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Manning, 25, of Crescent, Okla., read a statement in court on Feb. 28 claiming he sent secret information to WikiLeaks to expose the “bloodlust” of the American military and disregard for human life in Afghanistan and Iraq.
His court-martial is scheduled for June 3 at Fort Meade, near Baltimore.