Pfc. Bradley Manning is facing charges of aiding the enemy after thousands of classified documents downloaded by the former army intelligence analyst ended up on WikiLeaks.
Although US military judge Colonel Denise Lind refused to dismiss the controversial charge, she did warn prosecutors they would have to prove that Manning was fully aware he was aiding the enemy by transferring restricted documents to the whistle-blowing website.
Meanwhile, government prosecutor Major Ashden Fein told Manning defense attorney David Coombs that the military didn’t have to prove actual damage was caused by the leak of classified documents and insisted any discussion on the subject was a waste of time.
“Just because a damage assessment might say damage did occur or didn’t occur, it’s completely irrelevant to the charges,” Fein said. ”That tomorrow’s effect is somehow relevant to the charge on the crime sheet is irrelevant.”
A total of 22 charges have been leveled against Manning including: wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet; theft of public property or records; transmitting defense information; and fraud and related activity in connection with computers.
Manning’s trial is slated to begin on 21 September will last up to three weeks, although a number of analysts and journalists have questioned whether or not the Pentagon can provide him with a fair hearing.
“I don’t think anyone disagrees that the government has enough evidence to start a court martial proceeding. The question is whether they should be proceeding,” Dan Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, told The Guardian back in December 2011.
“It’s outrageous for two reasons. How can there be a fair court martial when the commander in chief, president Obama himself, pronounced that he is guilty [of breaking the law]? Secondly, he has been subjected to 10 and a half months of clearly abusive treatment that in my opinion was immoral and illegal.”