Updated: Alleged US Army Whistleblower, Bradley Manning, Arraigned

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Common Dreams

Updated: Alleged US Army Whistleblower, Bradley Manning, Arraigned

Manning defers plea after being formally charged with aiding the enemy

by
Common Dreams staff

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning in this December 21, 2011 file photo. (REUTERS/Benjamin Myers/Files)

UPDATE: (2:12 PM EST) Manning defers plea after being formally charged with aiding the enemy

The Guardian reports:

Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of spilling a massive trove of military secrets to WikiLeaks, has been formally charged with aiding the enemy at the first day of his court martial on Thursday.

At the 45-minute hearing, in a courtroom at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning deferred both his plea to the 22 charges against him and a decision over whether he wanted a military judge or a panel to hear his case.

Wearing his dress greens and heavy, dark-rimmed glasses, Manning sat though most of the proceedings with his hands clasped.

Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking US military and diplomatic documents to the media website Wikileaks, is being arraigned today in Maryland.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Antiwar activists announced plans Wednesday for a "support vigil" beginning at 12:30 p.m. today outside the main gate of the Army base in Anne Arundel County.

If convicted of the charges, Manning, 24, could be sentenced to life in prison. Aiding the enemy is a capital offense, but Army prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty. [...]

Manning, who lived in Potomac and studied at Montgomery College before he enlisted in 2007, is accused of sending raw field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies around the world and a video of a U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad to be published online by WikiLeaks.

"If Manning had been a member of the U.S. Marine squad that admitted to systematically murdering two dozen innocent Iraqi men, women, and children in Haditha, Iraq, he'd be walking free today," Obuszewski said in a release. "Instead, he faces the real prospect of life in prison for telling the truth."

Anti-war activists say the footage of the 2007 Apache helicopter attack, which left 12 dead, appears to show evidence of a war crime. In the video, released by WikiLeaks as "Collateral Murder," the American helicopter crew can be heard laughing and referring to Iraqis as "dead bastards."

If Manning released the materials, "He is a hero for blowing the whistle," Baltimore activist Max Obuszewski said Wednesday.

"If Manning had been a member of the U.S. Marine squad that admitted to systematically murdering two dozen innocent Iraqi men, women, and children in Haditha, Iraq, he'd be walking free today," Obuszewski said in a release. "Instead, he faces the real prospect of life in prison for telling the truth."

Members of the Icelandic parliament nominated Manning this month for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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