Pfc. Bradley Manning’s defence rested its case today after presenting evidence from 10 witnesses, hoping to prove the loads of material the soldier gave to WikiLeaks did not threaten national security or U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Prosecutors argued the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst let military secrets fall into the hands of al-Qaeda and its former leader Osama bin Laden. Manning faces 21 charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a possible life sentence.
A judge, not a jury, is hearing the case at Manning’s request. Prosecutors said they will call rebuttal witnesses Monday when the trial reconvenes.
Manning’s defence team has asked the judge to throw out the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, along with six other charges. Prosecutors had until Thursday to give the judge written arguments for those charges.
The 25-year-old Oklahoma native has acknowledged giving the anti-secrecy group hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables, along with battlefield videos and other documents. He downloaded them in late 2009 and early 2010 from a classified government computer network while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. WikiLeaks posted much of the material on its website.
Manning has said he leaked the material to provoke public discussion about what he considered wrongdoing by American troops and diplomats. The material included video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. A military investigation concluded the troops reasonably mistook the photography equipment for weapons.
Manning has pleaded guilty to reduced versions of some charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison for those offenses, but prosecutors pressed ahead with the original charges.