Pretrial Wraps Up for Alleged Document Leaker

FORT MEADE, Md., Dec. 22, 2011 — The pros­e­cu­tion and defense rest­ed today after deliv­er­ing their clos­ing state­ments in the Arti­cle 32 hear­ing of a sol­dier charged with leak­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments.

Today’s ses­sion, which adjourned at about 10:30 a.m., wrapped up eight days of pre-tri­al pro­ceed­ings in the case against Army Pfc. Bradley E. Man­ning that began Dec. 16.

An Arti­cle 32 hear­ing, often com­pared to a civil­ian grand jury, is a pre­tri­al hear­ing to deter­mine if grounds exist for a gen­er­al court mar­tial, the most seri­ous of courts martial.

The inves­ti­gat­ing offi­cer, Army Lt. Col. Paul Alman­za, now has until Jan. 16 to issue his rec­om­men­da­tions to the Spe­cial Court Mar­tial Con­ven­ing Author­i­ty, a Mil­i­tary Dis­trict of Wash­ing­ton spokesper­son told Amer­i­can Forces Press Service.

Ala­man­za may ask for an exten­sion, if need­ed, the offi­cial said.

His report will rec­om­mend that the case be referred to a court mar­tial, or that some or all of the charges against Man­ning be dismissed.

The Spe­cial Court Mar­tial Con­ven­ing Author­i­ty, Army Col. Carl Coff­man, will then pro­vide Alamanza’s rec­om­men­da­tion to the Gen­er­al Court Mar­tial Con­ven­ing Author­i­ty, and indi­cate whether he con­curs with it, the MDW offi­cial said.

Man­ning, an intel­li­gence ana­lyst, is sus­pect­ed of leak­ing mil­i­tary and diplo­mat­ic doc­u­ments to the whis­tle-blow­ing web­site Wik­iLeaks in what offi­cials believe is the biggest intel­li­gence leak in U.S. history.

Wik­iLeaks, in turn, released thou­sands of these doc­u­ments, includ­ing clas­si­fied records about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on its web­site last year.

At the time, then-Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and oth­er senior defense offi­cials con­demned the organization’s actions, claim­ing the act put deployed ser­vice mem­bers at an increased risk.

The Arti­cle 32 hear­ing marked 24-year-old Manning’s first appear­ance in a mil­i­tary court since his arrest in Iraq in May 2010.

He faces more than 20 charges alleg­ing he intro­duced unau­tho­rized soft­ware onto gov­ern­ment com­put­ers to extract clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, unlaw­ful­ly down­loaded it, improp­er­ly stored it, and trans­mit­ted the data for pub­lic release and use by the enemy.

The charge of aid­ing the ene­my under Arti­cle 104 of the Uni­formed Code of Mil­i­tary Jus­tice is a cap­i­tal offense; how­ev­er, the pros­e­cu­tion team has said it won’t rec­om­mend the death penal­ty, a legal offi­cial said.

If con­vict­ed of all charges, Man­ning would face a max­i­mum pun­ish­ment of life in prison. He also could be reduced to E‑1, the low­est enlist­ed grade, face a total for­fei­ture of all pay and allowances and dis­hon­or­able dis­charge, offi­cials said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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