Manning's Defense Rests After Final Blows to 'Aiding the Enemy' Charges

Closing arguments could be heard as soon as Tuesday

The defense for Pfc. Bradley Manning rested Wednesday afternoon after hearing testimony from Harvard Professor Yochai Benkler, a "fourth estate" scholar who argued that WikiLeaks is "a legitimate journalistic organization" rather than an organization which aids "terrorist organizations," as has been portrayed by the U.S. government.

Benkler's testimony supported the defense's request to drop a number of charges against the whistleblower--including the most serious charge of 'aiding the enemy.'

According to Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola, Benkler's testimony showed that the prosecution's argument that WikiLeaks "is not a legitimate journalistic organization...committed to advancing the cause of transparency but rather an anti-American organization that had a website, where the enemy could go to for US government information" is simply government propaganda created after Manning's embarrassing leaks--not before.

As Ed Pilkington noted during a live chat at the Guardian's website following today's hearing, "the 'aiding the enemy' charge goes right to the heart of this case and why it's so massively important to freedom of speech and journalism in America."

"In bringing this charge the US gov is saying, quite literally," Pilkington adds, "that by leaking to a website, Manning was handing the information to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. If that doesn't put a chill on whistleblowing, I don't know what will."

Arguments are now closed, meaning Manning will not be testifying in his trial.

"Rebuttals" to the defense's arguments are expected from the government's prosecutors on Monday, particularly to the motions to drop the "aiding the enemy" charge.

If the rebuttals are denied, closing arguments will begin on Tuesday.

Follow tweets from experts following the case below:


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