Judge raises standard of proof in Wikileaks case

[JURIST] At a preliminary hearing on Wednesday Military Judge Denise Lind ruled the state must prove Pfc. Bradley Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] knowingly helped al Qaeda. Manning has pleaded guilty to several other charges, but is contesting [Guardian report] the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. Lind ruled that to meet the standard of proof for the charge, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Manning knowingly dealt with and helped an enemy of the US, including al Qaeda, by releasing classified information. The prosecution will reportedly seek to prove this in part by showing documents leaked by Manning actually reached the enemy. This will be done through an anonymous witness that recovered pieces of digital media from Osama bin Laden's compounded that were leaked to Wikileaks [website; JURIST news archive] by Manning. The defense is protesting the use of an anonymous witness that restricts their access to discovery and cross-examination.

Since his arrest in 2010, Manning's case has been controversial. In February Manning pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to 10 of the 22 charges against him for providing classified materials to WikiLeaks. Also in February Lind dismissed [JURIST report] a defense motion arguing that Manning should be released based on a lack of a speedy trial. In January Lind ruled that prosecutors must prove that Manning knew he was aiding the enemy and that the treatment he received while in military custody was illegal and excessive [JURIST reports]. In November Lind accepted [JURIST report] a partial guilty plea to several of the minor charges against Manning. In August JURIST guest columnist Philip Cave argued [JURIST comment] that the lack of transparency in Manning's case undermines the validity of the eventual verdict. In June Lind ordered [JURIST report] the prosecution to submit to her a number of files that were allegedly withheld from the defense during discovery.

 

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