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Bradley Manning's Hearing In WikiLeaks Case Concludes

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, left, is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on Thursday.
Patrick Semansky
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, left, is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on Thursday.

The military hearing to decide whether Pfc. Bradley Manning, 24, will face a court-martial has come to an end in Fort Meade, Md. As the AP reports, during the hearing a military prosecutor argued that Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, had "defied the nation's trust" by allegedly leaking 700,000 documents, including tens of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, to the website WikiLeaks.

The defense argued that Manning was emotionally troubled and the Army failed to help him. The defense said the government was overreaching with 22 charges that could lead to life in prison, because Manning ultimately did not cause the country any harm by releasing the documents.

The New York Times reports on what happens next:

"The investigating officer overseeing the proceedings is expected to deliver his recommendations on whether to court-martial Private Manning on Jan. 16. Legal experts said it was almost certain that Private Manning would be tried on at least some of the 22 charges against him, which include aiding the enemy and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer.

"If he is court-martialed on the more serious charges, Mr. Manning could face the death penalty. But prosecutors have said they would seek life in prison instead."

Reuters reports that the courtroom at Fort Meade was packed and included a lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in the '70s.

As we reported, the hearing started with a bang last Friday when the defense attorney challenged whether the judge was biased in favor of the government and should recuse himself from the case. But the judge refused to remove himself and the case moved forward. One of the more dramatic revelations came when the government linked Manning to the WikiLeaks documents.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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