Soldier Accused of WikiLeaks Controversy Trial Starts
Three years ago, the military dealt with what they call "the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history". Today, the man accused of being behind those leaks went on trial. Private First Class Bradley Manning was 22 years old when he gave more than 700,000 secret documents to WikiLeaks, which is an anti-secrecy website. Manning was arrested for the leaks back in 2010 while he was serving in Iraq.
The leaked documents also contained videos and other data that the soldier believed would show the world the cost of war, according to Manning's lawyer. As of now, Manning is facing 21 counts of charges. The most serious is the one of aiding an enemy of United States, if convicted of this charge Manning could face life in prison. Back in February, Manning had pleaded guilty to about ten lesser charges that would have sent him to prison for at least twenty years. However, the prosecution did not accept the pleas and are continuing on with the original charges.
Manning is arguing that his only intention for releasing the documents was to start a debate on the military and foreign policy. However, the lead prosecutor U.S. Army Captain Joe Morrow said in his opening remarks in court, "This is a case of what happens when arrogance meets access to classified networks. This had great interest to our adversaries and to our enemies." He said that these leaks were beneficial in aiding Osama bin Laden with his terrorism on the United States. Also that the leaks lead to putting possible lives at risk with all of the released classified information.
Any possible sentence that Manning receives will be reduced by 112 days due to reported harsh treatment that he received during his confinement at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. The judge who is overseeing the case is Colonel Denise Lind. Lind said back in April that parts of this high profile case will be closed to the public due to protect any classified information discussed. On Monday June 3, 2013, Manning agreed to have Lind give the ruling in his case verses having a jury. The trial will reportedly continue on through August.
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