The military judge presiding over the case of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], who is accused of leaking confidential documents to WikiLeaks [website; JURIST news archive], accepted on Thursday the terms of a partial guilty plea put forward by Manning. The decision [WP report] by judge Col. Denise R. Lind does not bind the prosecution to accept the terms or prevent them from adding charges. Manning offered his guilty plea [JURIST report] to seven of the more minor charges earlier in the month through a pleading process called "exceptions and substitutions." Prosecutors handling the case have not yet indicated if they will accept any portion of the plea terms offered.
Manning's case has engendered a great deal of controversy. In August JURIST guest columnist Philip Cave argued that the lack of transparency [JURIST op-ed] in Manning's case undermines the validity of the eventual verdict. In June Lind ordered the prosecution to submit to her a number of files that were allegedly withheld from the defense during discovery [JURIST report]. Earlier in June Lind denied a motion [JURIST report] to dismiss eight of the 22 charges against Manning after his defense had argued they were unconstitutionally vague. In May UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez accused the US government of cruel and inhuman treatment [JURIST report] of Manning. The US military court referred Manning's case for court-martial in February after a US Army panel of experts declared Manning competent to stand trial [JURIST reports] last April.