Closing arguments for the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning began Thursday morning in a decisive moment in U.S. history that could find the whistleblower guilty of "aiding the enemy"—a charge that would deal a fatal blow to freedom of the press as well as governmental transparency, critics warn.
Before the closing arguments began, Military Judge Colonel Denise Lind ruled against a defense motion to acquit Bradley Manning of "stealing, purloining or knowingly converting information," the second such blow to the defense's battle to take Manning's most serious charges off the table before the final sentencing.
A similar move to drop the "aiding the enemy" charge failed last week—which carries the possibility of life in prison.
According to Manning's Lawyer, David Coombs, the government has “taken a very, very unique position...No case has ever been prosecuted under this type of theory, that an individual by the nature of giving information to a journalistic organization would then be subject to a 104 offense [aiding the enemy].”
Following the closing arguments Lind will then go into deliberations, "which could take days," according to the Bradley Manning Defense Network. Sentencing is scheduled to begin July 31. However, it could be pushed back if Lind needs more time to deliberate.
Follow live tweets below as well as Kevin Gosztola's live blog for updates throughout the day.