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Accused GI is denied WikiLeaks grand jury records

By David Dishneau
Associated Press / April 25, 2012
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FORT MEADE, Md.—A military judge says Army prosecutors don't have to provide the defense with transcripts of federal grand jury testimony regarding government secrets disclosed by Wikileaks.

Army Col. Denise Lind ruled Wednesday during a pretrial hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning. He's the intelligence analyst charged with sending reams of government secrets to the anti-secrecy website in 2009 and 2010.

Manning's lawyers were seeking transcripts from a federal investigation into whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be prosecuted for the disclosure of information that authorities say was provided by Manning.

Lind said that while the FBI and the Army have jointly pursued a WikiLeaks investigation, military prosecutors have no authority to release FBI documents.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A military judge refused on Wednesday to throw out the charges against an Army private accused of providing reams of sensitive documents to Wikileaks in the biggest leak of government secrets in U.S. history.

Army Col. Denise Lind denied the defense motion to dismiss all 22 charges during a pretrial hearing in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. The ruling means the hearing that's mainly concerned with the exchange of evidence will continue. It's scheduled to run through Thursday.

The defense has filed a separate motion seeking dismissal of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. That offense carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Lind tentatively scheduled the trial to run from Sept. 21 through Oct. 12. Manning hasn't entered a plea to the charges.

Manning is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to Wikileaks, the anti-secrecy website run by Julian Assange.

On Tuesday, the two sides engaged in a sometimes heated courtroom debate over defense claims that prosecutors haven't met their obligation to provide Manning's lawyers with evidence they uncover that could aid the defense, a process called discovery.

In seeking the dismissal, Manning's lawyers had argued that prosecutors were so slow in sharing required information with the defense that the only remedy was to throw out the charges.

Prosecutors said they worked diligently to meet their obligations. They maintained that they needed time to obtain documents from civilian agencies and search the records for relevant material. They also accused the defense of making an overly broad, vague request for information.

Lind asked the prosecutors on Tuesday for several government assessments of potential damage caused by Wikileaks' publication of the documents. She said she would review the assessments and determine whether they must be given to the defense team.

The 24-year-old Oklahoma native was ordered court-martialed after he was accused of downloading the documents, diplomatic cables and video clips, then sending them to WikiLeaks. He was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad when authorities say he copied classified material from government computers in late 2009 and early 2010.

The material WikiLeaks published included cockpit video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack that killed a number of civilians, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. The U.S. government says the civilian deaths were accidental.

Manning has been in pretrial confinement since he was charged in May 2010. His treatment at a Marine Corps base caused support for him to swell. The Quantico, Va., brig commander kept Manning confined 23 hours a day in a single-bed cell, citing safety and security concerns. For several days in March 2011, he was forced to sleep naked, purportedly for injury prevention, before he was issued a suicide-prevention smock.

Manning's supporters have raised funds to place posters in the Washington Metro subway system this week portraying him as a whistleblower, patriot and hero.

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