Bradley Manning arraigned

February 24th, 2012 - 12:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 24 (IANS/EFE) US Army Pvt. Bradley Manning declined to enter a plea at his arraignment Thursday on charges he leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Manning is invoking his right to defer entering a plea, defense attorney David Coombs said during a brief hearing at Fort Meade, an Army base midway between Washington and Baltimore.

The judge presiding over the court martial, Col. Denise Lind, read the 22 charges brought against Manning. The most serious charge is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential penalty of life in prison.

The 24-year-old soldier is accused of providing WikiLeaks with materials relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a mass of diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world.

Manning had access to the data while working as an Army intelligence analyst in 2009-10.

Besides deferring his plea, the defendant also put off a decision on whether to be tried by a military judge or a jury.

Noting that Manning has already spent 635 days in detention, Coombs asked Lind to start the trial in June, while the prosecution requested the court martial be delayed until August.

Lind did not set a trial date, but scheduled a hearing for March 16 to consider various motions from both sides.

–IANS/EFE
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