FORT MEADE (USA): A military judge rejected on Friday a petition by the US soldier accused of spilling a trove of US intelligence secrets to the WikiLeaks website to dismiss some of the charges against him. Judge Denise Lind denied defence motions to dismiss 10 of 22 charges against Army Private First Class Bradley Manning.
The judge rejected defence claims that eight charges of unauthorised possession and disclosure of classified information were “unconstitutionally vague.” On the third and final day of preliminary hearings, Lind denied the defence's bid to drop two additional charges that Manning exceeded his authorisation to use a Defence Department intranet system.
“Every person who has downloaded a music, a video, a game has exceeded its authorised access,” Manning's civil attorney David Coombs told the court on Thursday.
Lind also said the court-martial trial, which had been scheduled for Sept 21, would be pushed back either to November or January. Another hearing in the case was set for June 25.
Manning, 24, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of aiding the enemy by handing hundreds of thousands of classified documents — including military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and sensitive diplomatic cables — to the WikiLeaks website. He has not yet entered a plea.
The leak triggered a diplomatic firestorm that left US officials red-faced over criticism of both allies and foes.—AFP