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Military judge to review allegedly withheld evidence in Wikileaks trial

Army Col. Denise Lind on Monday ordered the prosecution in the case against Pfc. Bradley Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] to submit to her a number of files that were allegedly withheld from the defense during discovery. Manning is accused of transferring more than 700,000 confidential documents and video clips to Wikileaks [website; JURIST news archive], the largest intelligence leak is US history. Manning's defense has argued the leaks did not hurt US national security, but the US Army has responded that Manning's actions indirectly aided al Qaeda. Manning's lawyers now allege that the prosecution has withheld damage assessment reports [AP report] that may affect the outcome of his case. Lind ordered the prosecution to turn over the reports as well as a "due diligence statement" accounting for their failure to reveal the documents earlier. The prosecution has maintained that their actions were justified and that it is time-consuming to obtain the documents in question.

Earlier this month, Lind denied a motion [JURIST report] to dismiss eight of the 22 charges against Manning after his defense had argued they were unconstitutionally vague. Last month UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez accused the US government of cruel and inhuman treatment [JURIST report] of Manning. The US military court referred Manning's case for court-martial in February after a US Army panel of experts declared Manning competent to stand trial [JURIST reports] 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, comparing him to famous US whistleblowers such as Frank Serpico and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked information regarding corruption in the New York Police Department and the Pentagon, respectively.

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