The judge in the case of accused WikiLeaker PFC Bradley Manning has denied a defense motion to dismiss the charge of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge Manning will face during his court martial.
On the third and final day of pre-trial hearings in Manning’s case, presiding judge Col. Denise Lind denied two other defense motions. They included an assertion that prosecutors unreasonably multiplied charges against Manning, and a motion to dismiss a charge dealing with publishing information on the Internet knowing the enemy has access to the Web.
Manning’s civilian defense counsel, David Coombs, argued on Wednesday that the charge of aiding the enemy was too vague.
Outlining specific instructions in her decision to deny the motion, Lind told the government that it must prove Manning knew that by putting information on the WikiLeaks site the enemy would access it.
If, at the end of the trial, currently set for late September, the government does not prove Manning had that knowledge, the defense can then submit another motion to dismiss the charge.
Manning faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records and transmitting defense information.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Coombs criticized the government for allegedly piling “on offenses to increase the sentence.”
He requested four charges be dismissed because the specifications were unreasonable and a duplication of other charges against Manning.
Lind denied that motion during Thursday’s hearing at Ft. Meade, Md., based on the fact that given the amount of information involved it was not an unreasonable duplication.
“The number of charges does not misrepresent or exaggerate the accused theft of government property,” Lind said.
Although Lind denied motion submitted by the defense, she said it can readdress the motion again at sentencing, if it is relevant.
The judge also disagreed with the defense’s argument that the charge Manning faces for “wrongfully and wantonly caus[ing] [information] to be published on the Internet” knowing it would be accessed by the enemy is redundant, saying it is not preempted by the charge of “aiding the enemy.” She said that the alleged crimes were distinct and separate criminal acts.
The prosecution argued Thursday that proving actual harm and damage that arose from the leaks is not relevant to the charges and their specifications.
Government prosecutor Major Ashden Fein said that all of the charges dealt with “potential damage” and, therefore, there is no requirement to prove that actual damage occurred.
“That tomorrow’s effect is somehow relevant to the … charge on the crime sheet is irrelevant,” Fein said.
Coombs countered the government’s motion to “preclude reference to actual harm or damage” by saying a decision on the motion is “premature” because the defense has not “had the ability to see any of these damage assessments” that would state whether harm occurred from the leaks.
A decision on the “actual harm,” discovery requests of government agencies harm reports, and a State Department discovery request are expected sometime between now and the next hearing in June – the next time Manning, 24, will be in front of Lind.
Those three days of hearings will address the elements of each alleged crime.