Army Col. Denise Lind refused Wednesday to dismiss Espionage Act [text] charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] for allegedly transferring vast amounts of classified information to Wikileaks [website; JURIST news archive]. The ruling [AP report] will allow the discovery hearing to continue with the official trial scheduled to begin in September. Manning's defense argues that many others had access to his workplace computers in Iraq, he never should have been deployed to Iraq or entrusted with confidential information because he is emotionally troubled since he was barred from openly serving as a gay man, and the leaks did not hurt US national security. He has also filed a separate motion to dismiss the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which could carry a sentence of life imprisonment.
The US military court referred Manning's case for court-martial [JURIST report] in February. Last month UN Special Rapporteur on torture the Juan Mendez [official website] accused the US government of cruel and inhuman treatment [JURIST report] against Manning. A US Army panel of experts declared Manning competent to stand trial [JURIST report] last April. Manning's prosecution has sparked heated debate between defenders and critics. Those who support Manning's actions refer to him as courageous for acting as a whistleblower [advocacy petition] against government crime and corruption. He has been compared to famous US whistleblowers such as Frank Serpico and Daniel Ellsberg [personal websites], who leaked information regarding corruption in the New York Police Department and the Pentagon, respectively.