Military appeals court rejects requests to open Wikileaks court-martial documents

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces [official website] on Wednesday rejected a request by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] to have access to court documents from the case against Bradley Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive]. CCR had filed a lawsuit [CCR backgrounder] seeking extraordinary relief by opening "public and press access to the government's motion papers, the court's own orders, and transcripts of proceedings" from the court-martial of Manning related to his leaking confidential documents to the Wikileaks [website; JURIST news archive] website in 2010. In a statement [text] following the rejection of their claim, CCR spokesperson Shayana Kadidal said the decision, "flies in the face of decades of First Amendment rulings in the federal courts that hold that openness affects outcome—that the accuracy of court proceedings depends on their being open."

Since his arrest in 2010, Manning's case has been controversial. In April the judge hearing the case raised the burden of proof [JURIST report] so that the state must prove that Manning "knowingly" aided al Qaeda. In February Manning pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to 10 of the 22 charges against him for providing classified materials to WikiLeaks. Also in February the judge dismissed [JURIST report] a defense motion arguing that Manning should be released based on a lack of a speedy trial. In January the judge 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 the judge 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 the judge ordered [JURIST report] the prosecution to submit to her a number of files that were allegedly withheld from the defense during discovery.

 

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