Judge Refuses to Dismiss Charges Against WikiLeaks Suspect

January 8, 2013

Watch WikiSecrets, FRONTLINE’s investigation into Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and the largest intelligence breach in U.S. history, and The Private Life of Bradley Manning, a profile of the early years of the young soldier now accused of leaking more than half a million classified U.S. government documents.

Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, lost a chance at freedom in a military courtroom in Maryland today, and learned his months in solitary confinement will only earn him a 112-day reduction in his eventual sentence.

Army Colonel Denise Lind, the judge presiding over the court-martial, refused a defense motion to throw out the charges because of Manning’s harsh confinement conditions in Kuwait and a Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Va., according to the Associated Press and other reports.

Few observers expected the 22 charges — which include aiding the enemy, which carries a possible life sentence — to be thrown out entirely, but the defense was also asking that, if the charges could not be dismissed, the judge reduce Manning’s ultimate sentence, applying a 10-to-1 credit for each day of his confinement.  On this point, Judge Lind gave a little ground, applying a 1-to1 credit for certain violations, resulting in the 112-day reduction.

According to blogger Kevin Gosztola, Judge Lind, who read her ruling out loud over the course of 90 minutes, found that the brig authorities at Quantico had kept Manning on suicide watch without proper justification and that he had not been given enough recreation time while under maximum-security status, but apparently considered these relatively minor violations.  She dismissed the allegations of improper command influence in Manning’s treatment, as well as allegations of an intent to punish Manning.

Earlier today, Manning’s lawyer, Jeffrey Coombs claimed for the first time that Manning had actually been selective in the material he leaked, to make sure no one would be harmed by the release.  He also revealed his intention to call as a witness Adrian Lamo, the hacker who reported Manning to the authorities.

Manning’s court-martial, which has been delayed multiple times, is currently scheduled to begin March 6.

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