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Bradley Manning`s gave information to enemies

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 00:49

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: The court martial of US Army private Bradley Manning, who leaked troves of classified US documents to Julian Assange`s whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, has begun at Fort Meade, Maryland.

As the trial commenced, prosecutors claimed that Manning had aided the enemy. "This is a case of about what happens when arrogance meets access to sensitive information," Capt. Joe Morrow said in his opening statement, as per a news agency report.

Bradley Manning, who is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by sending classified material to WikiLeaks, has said that he wanted to reveal to public how the American military was fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan with little regard for human life.

Defense attorney David Coombs said Manning was "young, naive, but good-intentioned." Coombs said Manning selectively leaked material he believed could make the world a better place

"He believed this information showed how we value human life. He was troubled by that. He believed that if the American public saw it, they too would be troubled," Coombs said.

In February, Manning told military judge Army Col Denise Lind that he leaked the material to expose the American military`s "bloodlust" and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he did not believe the information would harm the US and he wanted to start a debate on the role of the military and foreign policy.

The judge accepted his guilty plea to reduced charges for about half of the alleged offences, but prosecutors did not and moved forward with a court-martial on charges including violations of the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

A couple of days ago, supporters of Bradley Manning, held a protest march and rally outside Maryland’s Fort Meade ahead of his court-martial that is scheduled for today.

Manning`s supporters hail him as a whistleblowing hero and a political prisoner. Others view him as a traitor.

The 25 year old, who hails from Oklahoma, is said to have sent 250,000 diplomatic cables and 500,000 battlefield reports from Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks in 2009-10.

The material WikiLeaks began publishing in 2010 documented complaints of Iraqi detainee abuses; a US tally of civilian deaths in Iraq; and America`s weak support for the government of Tunisia a disclosure Manning supporters said encouraged the popular uprising that ousted the Tunisian president in 2011 and helped trigger the Middle Eastern pro-democracy uprisings known as the Arab Spring.

Last month, the government agreed to accept Manning`s guilty plea for one lesser version of one count, involving a single diplomatic cable summarising US embassy discussions with Icelandic officials about the country`s financial troubles.

Manning also acknowledged sending WikiLeaks unclassified video of a 2007 US Apache helicopter attack that killed civilians, including a Reuters photographer. An internal military investigation concluded the troops reasonably mistook the camera equipment for weapons; WikiLeaks dubbed the video "Collateral Murder."

With Agency Inputs

First Published: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 11:27
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