Fort Meade: An exhaustive search for government records assessing the impact of the WikiLeaks disclosures could delay the court-martial of the Army private charged with causing the biggest intelligence leak in US history, a military judge has said.
With the defence accusing prosecutors of sitting on evidence potentially favourable to Bradley Manning, the judge indicated she would consider his lawyers` request for a stay of proceedings.
The trial is set to begin September 21.
At a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade that is scheduled to continue through Friday, Colonel Denise Lind didn`t say when she would rule on the defence motion.
Manning, a 24-year-old Crescent, Oklahoma, native, is charged with knowingly aiding al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula by allegedly causing hundreds of thousands of classified war logs, video clips and diplomatic cables to be published on the secret-sharing website WikiLeaks.
Authorities say he downloaded the files from a Defence Department network while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010.
Manning`s lawyers are seeking dismissal of 10 of the 22 charges he faces.
Yesterday`s debate focused in part on an FBI "impact assessment" that prosecutors first mentioned in a May 31 court filing. Lead Prosecutor Ashden Fein said prosecutors have already given the defence nearly 9,000 pages of FBI investigative records and a draft State Department assessment of the effects of the WikiLeaks disclosures on US foreign relations.
Lind grilled lead prosecutor Ashden Fein most of the afternoon about whether his team is meeting its obligation to disclose any evidence it uncovers that could aid in the preparation of Manning`s defence.
Defence attorneys have been battling for months for access to hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence that they say could help Manning`s side. They say the documents they have been given by prosecutors are sometimes heavily redacted and virtually useless.