A second day of motions hearings at Fort Meade, Md., in the case of PFC Bradley Manning, the alleged Wikileaker, has wrapped. He is next expected in court for another set of pre-trial hearings in late April.
Col. Denise Lind, the judge assigned to the case, denied two motions and left one unanswered. The motion to dismiss the case without prejudice, which was submitted yesterday, was not addressed at today’s hearing and it remained unclear when Lind would hand down a ruling on the motion.
Lind denied a motion today by Manning’s defense attorney David Coombs to compel the depositions of eight individuals—several military officials and a State Department official who could testify over whether the material Manning allegedly leaked was classified and what impact its disclosure may have had on national security.
Lind determined that the depositions from these witnesses were unnecessary because these individuals could be called as witnesses during the trial by either side.
The judge determined that another defense motion to compel discovery was “under advisement” and would be addressed at the next hearing in April.
At yesterday’s pre-trial hearing the judge ruled against a defense motion that requested access to an “ex parte” witness, whom military prosecutors would not have had access to prior to the trial. Lind said the motion did not meet the requirement for unusual circumstances.
Yesterday Manning’s defense team asked military prosecutors to explain who the enemy was in the most serious charge against Manning for “aiding the enemy.” Prosecutors defined the enemy as Al Qaeda and also clarified that Manning knowingly gave information to and aided the enemy by publishing content on Wikileaks.
In addition, the prosecution and defense have finalized a protective order that “best balances the protective information [classified material] … and accused right to a fair trial.” A legal military expert explained that this type of order is set up when dealing with classified evidence, explaining it as a “procedural process” for how classified material can be used.
Prior to the start of the two-day hearing, military prosecutors did not contest a fourth defense motion that would require potential military jury members from reading anything in the media about the case.
Manning is next expected in court April 24 through 26, but what will be litigated during those hearings is not firm. It is expected that his court martial will get underway later this summer. At his arraignment last month, Manning did not enter a plea and he has yet to select whether he wants to be tried by a military judge or a military jury.