Prosecutors in Bradley Manning trial rest their case

Prosecutors in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning rested their case Tuesday after hearing testimony from nearly 80 witnesses in their attempt to convict him on nearly two dozen charges, including a violation of the Espionage Act.

Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, has acknowledged providing hundreds of thousands of sensitive diplomatic and military files to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Prosecutors have sought to prove that, in doing so, he was aware that al-Qaeda would see the material.

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If convicted on charges of violating the Espionage Act and of aiding and abetting the enemy, Manning could face life in prison. He has already entered a plea to lesser charges that carry a prison sentence of 20 years.

Most of the proceedings, being held at Fort Meade, Md., have been consumed by the submissions of written statements from government officials and members of the investigative teams who researched the case against Manning. Much of this material has been technical in nature, with the prosecution seeking to prove that Manning had exceeded his access to materials, leaked classified information, and illegally downloaded programs onto government computers.

Some of the proceedings have been carried out in closed session because the testimony has involved classified material.

This week, the prosecution was able to enter information into the record concerning Osama bin Laden’s correspondence to associates requesting access to certain documents that Manning provided to WikiLeaks, including U.S. military battlefield reports from Afghanistan. The government also presented evidence from a video made by Adam Gadahn, a member of al-Qaeda, praising the release of classified information by WikiLeaks.

The court was forced to hear testimony in just three closed sessions. Before the start of the court-martial, officials from the Military District of Washington had estimated that a third of the proceedings could be closed to the public.

The defense was able to chip away at some of the prosecution’s attempts to enter some material as evidence — it admitted a letter into the court record refuting the classification of a video disclosed by WikiLeaks that showed Iraqi civilians being gunned down by an Apache helicopter, making it more difficult for the prosecution to prove one of the Espionage Act violations against Manning.

In addition, the prosecution was unable to locate the computer security agreement that Manning signed before he deployed to Iraq. He is charged with violating that agreement in three separate charges.

The defense will start its case on Monday. Defense attorney David Coombs has expressed his intention to call nearly 50 witnesses.

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