Military Law

Judge in Bradley Manning leak case refuses to toss charge of aiding the enemy

A military judge has refused to dismiss a charge of aiding the enemy against Bradley Manning, a soldier accused of providing classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Col. Denise Lind based her decision on evidence that some of the leaked documents were posted on the Internet and read by Osama bin Laden, report the New York Times and the Washington Post. Lind said that, based on Manning’s training, he would have been aware that terrorist groups use the Internet. Manning’s lawyer had argued the evidence didn’t show actual knowledge of aiding the enemy.

Manning is accused of giving WikiLeaks some 700,000 classified documents, including Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports. He had pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges in February, but 12 other counts remained, including the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. If convicted on that count, he could be sentenced to life in military custody with no chance of parole.

Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, told the publications he didn’t think the evidence supported an aiding the enemy charge. He said there should be a showing of specific intent, rather than just actual knowledge.

“The point of charging Manning in this way is to transform what was widely seen around the world as a valuable leak into treason,” he told the Post. “The government purports to criminalize any information that is published somewhere where the enemy can see it.”

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