Wikileaks defendant pleads guilty lesser charges

[JURIST] Pfc. Bradley Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] pleaded guilty on Thursday to 10 of the 22 charges against him for providing classified materials to WikiLeaks [website; JURIST news archive] in what the government says is the largest leak of classified documents in US history. Manning, who is charged [JURIST report] with violating the Espionage Act, pleaded not guilty [NBC news report] to the most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy. Additionally, Manning read a statement [CNN report] offering, for the first time, his rationale for leaking the documents. Manning claimed he became depressed about the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and wanted the public to know about the "ground reality" but did not believe the information could harm the US. Thursday's plea comes one day after US Army Colonel Denise Lind, who is presiding over Manning's case, denied [JURIST report] a defense motion to dismiss the charges against Manning because he he has not been provided with a speedy trial.

Since his arrest in 2010, Manning's case has been controversial. In January Lind ruled that prosecutors must prove that Manning knew he was aiding the enemy and that the treatment he received while in military custody was illegal and excessive [JURIST reports]. In November Lind accepted [JURIST report] a partial guilty plea to several of the minor charges against Manning. In August JURIST guest columnist Philip Cave argued [JURIST comment] that the lack of transparency in Manning's case undermines the validity of the eventual verdict. In June Lind ordered [JURIST report] the prosecution to submit to her a number of files that were allegedly withheld from the defense during discovery. Earlier that month Lind denied a motion [JURIST report] to dismiss 8 of the 22 charges against Manning after his defense argued that they were unconstitutionally vague. In May UN Special Rapporteur on torture accused [JURIST report] the US government of cruel and inhuman treatment.

 

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