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Judge Allows 'Vague' Bradley Manning Charges to Stand

Trial pushed back to 'November or January'

Common Dreams staff

Bradley Manning (Photo/Alex Wong)

A U.S. military judge is refusing to dismiss eight of the 22 counts against Bradley Manning, the US Army private charged in a leak of US government secrets.

The material, much of it published by WikiLeaks between April and November 2010, included videos of a 2007 helicopter gun attack in Baghdad and the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan, 250,000 United States diplomatic cables, and 500,000 army reports that came to be known as the Iraq and Afghan War logs.

Col. Denise Lind made the ruling Friday during a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland.

The judge also announced that Manning's trial - which was set to start September 21 - would be pushed back either to November or January. Manning has been held in military prisons since his May 2010 arrest in Iraq.

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Agence France-Presse reports:

A military judge rejected Friday a petition by the US soldier accused of spilling a trove of US intelligence secrets to the WikiLeaks website to dismiss some of the charges against him.

“Every person who has downloaded a music, a video, a game has exceeded its authorized access”
- David Coombs, Manning’s civil attorney
Judge Denise Lind denied defense motions to dismiss eight of 22 charges against Army Private First Class Bradley Manning.

The judge rejected defense claims that the charges of unauthorized possession and disclosure of classified information were “unconstitutionally vague.”

On the third and final day of preliminary hearings, Lind was also considering a bid by the defense to drop two additional charges that Manning exceeded his authorization to use a Defense Department intranet system.

“Every person who has downloaded a music, a video, a game has exceeded its authorized access,” Manning’s civil attorney David Coombs told the court on Thursday.

Lind also said the court-martial trial, which had been scheduled for September 21, would be pushed back either to November or January. Another hearing in the case was set for June 25.

Manning, 24, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of aiding the enemy by handing hundreds of thousands of classified documents — including military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and sensitive diplomatic cables — to the WikiLeaks website.

The leak triggered a diplomatic firestorm that left US officials red-faced over criticism of both allies and foes.

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