Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Fort Meade, Maryland - A United States military judge on Tuesday denied a defence request to dismiss the case against Army Private First Class Bradley Manning in the mass disclosure of military and diplomatic secrets by WikiLeaks.
Manning's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss all charges against him, arguing the government had violated their client's right to a speedy trial.
Ruling at a pretrial hearing on Tuesday, military judge Colonel Denise Lind said that the case took only 90 days to come to trial, well within the 120-day “clock” rule that exists for a court martial in reference to the time between pretrial confinement and arraignment.
Manning, 25, is accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including US diplomatic cables and various military reports. He faces 22 charges including aiding the enemy, which carries a penalty of life in prison.
US government secrets exposed by WikiLeaks beginning in 2010 staggered diplomats across the globe and outraged US officials, who said damage to national security from the leaks endangered US lives.
At this week's pre-trial hearing, Manning was slated to enter a plea to the charges on Thursday, Lind said.
Rejecting the motion to dismiss, Lind said there have been several legitimate reasons for delay in the case, including the processing of security clearances, mental health evaluations for the defendant, the sorting of classified information and subsequent co-ordination with relevant government agencies regarding that information.
The court martial is expected to begin on June 3.
Manning, who has already been jailed for over 1 000 days, will have his eventual sentence reduced by 112 days to compensate for the markedly harsh treatment he received during confinement at Quantico Marine Base, according to a ruling last month by Lind. While at Quantico, Manning was placed in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day with guards checking on him every few minutes.
Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010 and charged with downloading thousands of intelligence documents, diplomatic cables and combat videos while with the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade intelligence operation in Iraq.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June to avoid extradition to Sweden for alleged sex crimes. - Reuters