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Bradley Manning Pre-Trial Opens, Defense Seeks 10 Count Dismissal

- Common Dreams staff

Whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning appeared today at a military court outside of DC in the first day of a three day pretrial hearing.

US Army Private Bradley Manning (2nd R) (AFP/Getty Images, Alex Wong) Manning's lawyers are seeking dismissal of 10 of the 22 counts against him. Manning's defense argues the counts in question are either unconstitutionally vague or fail to state a prosecutable offense. Manning faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of one of these charges -- aiding the enemy.

Manning allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of military logs and diplomatic cables from Iraq and Afghanistan to website WikiLeaks while serving in Iraq.

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Agence France-Presse: Lawyers seek dismissal of 10 counts in WikiLeaks case

A frail-looking Manning was seated between two members of his defense team as the hearing got underway after an hour-long closed door hearing between lawyers for both sides.

The defense are set to argue their case at a three-day hearing at the military tribune where Manning, 24, is on trial for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and US diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks while serving as a low-ranking intelligence analyst in Iraq.

In motions filed ahead of the hearing, defense lawyers said the US government used "unconstitutionally vague" or "substantially overbroad" language in eight counts of their indictment, in which Manning is accused of "possession and disclosure of sensitive information."

For two other counts, in which Manning is accused of "having knowingly exceeded authorized access" to a secret Defense Department computer network, defense lawyers said the government failed to state an offense.

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Associated Press: GI seeks dismissal of 10 counts in WikiLeaks case

The motions were dated May 10. [Manning's civilian defense attorney, David Coombs] released them under a military court order last month permitting him to publicly release defense filings, often with portions redacted for security and privacy reasons. The ruling came in response to requests from news media, including The Associated Press, for access to all records of the proceedings.

On Thursday, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed a petition asking the Army Court of Criminal Appeals to order public and media access to the government's motion papers, the court's written orders and transcripts of the proceedings.

Coombs also revealed Wednesday that Army Maj. Thomas Hurley, who formerly represented a soldier charged with fatally shooting 17 Afghan villagers, has re-joined Manning's defense team.

Hurley was originally detailed to Manning's defense team in 2010. He was removed earlier this year to help defend Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. He stepped aside from that job after he and Bales' civilian attorney disagreed about defense strategy.

Coombs wrote that Manning personally asked to have Hurley defend him.

Manning's team also includes Capt. Joshua Tooman.

Manning is in pre-trial detention at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

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