As his court martial begins, Manning defers his plea in the Wikileaks case

On Thursday began Bradley Manning’s first day of court martial. He is accused of aiding the enemy by leaking classified documents, among other things. He has about 22 charges filed against him. On Thursday, he deferred a plea to all 22 of them. He also deferred his decision on whether he wants to be tried by a military judge or a panel that would consist of senior officials and enlisted members.

It is said that Manning deferred his decision on both because this gives them more time to work on the case and investigation and also keeps their options open. Due to Manning’s decision, the trial could begin sometime around August. By then, Manning and his men can strategize and see what happens to several of the motions that will be heard before the trial.

Manning is accused of providing Julian Assange with confidential documents about the Iraq and Afghan wars that were published on Wikileaks. He is charged with aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet in spite of knowing that it would be accessible to the enemy, theft of public property and records, transmitting defense information and fraud related to computers.

In December evidence was submitted in the court that Manning downloaded and transferred, which included war reports from Afghanistan and Iraq, thousands of diplomatic cables and videos of killings.

His lawyers argue that he was a ‘troubled’ young man who had behavioral problems. They also say his access to classified information should have been revoked by his seniors when he showed such behavioral problems and had outburst of violence. They went on to say that the material published on Wikileaks did not cause all that much harm to the nation’s security.

Manning has gathered followers worldwide. They call him the whistleblower. The next court hearing is set to for March 15th. Though the exact date of the trial is unavailable, it is expected to start during early August.

An anti-war protester stood up and shouted at the judge, “Judge, isn’t a soldier required to report a war crime?”

Though the judge ignored the outburst, the trial will proceed to answer the question.

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