A US military judge has refused to drop half the counts leveled against Pfc. Bradley Manning.
The former army intelligence analyst faces a total of 22 charges – including aiding the enemy – after thousands of classified documents allegedly downloaded by the soldier ended up on the whistle-blowing website.
Colonel Denise Lind, presiding over recent court martial proceedings at Fort Meade in Maryland, rejected a defense motion asking that 10 of the 22 counts against the US soldier be dismissed.
Manning’s lead civilian lawyer, David Coombs, told the courtmilitary prosecutors had lapsed in their obligation to hand over evidence which could have helped the defense.
Although Lind declined to drop the charges against Manning, she did order extra pre-trial hearings and urged the prosecution to accelerate its efforts to provide full disclosure of materials to the defense that could help Manning prove his innocence or reduce any potential sentence.
It should be noted that Lind recently ordered the Obama administration to disclose a number of confidential documents related to WikiLeaks. Specifically, the government was forced to hand over an official State Department “damage assessment” report to Manning’s defense team last week. The report offers a detailed analysis of damage to US interests that Manning allegedly caused by transferring classified documents which ultimately ended up on the whistle-blowing site.
Manning’s military trial is now slated to begin in November 2012 or January 2013. If found guilty, the former army intelligence analyst will likely spend the rest of his life in the brig without the chance of parole.