Washington: The lawyers of Bradley Manning, the US Army private accused of sharing classified documents WikiLeaks, have claimed that his position as a gay soldier in the era of ‘don`t ask, don`t tell’ played an important role in his actions.
The Army intelligence specialist`s team argued that Manning’s struggles in an environment hostile to homosexuality contributed to mental and emotional problems that should have barred him from having access to sensitive material.
Major Matthew Kemkes, a defense lawyer, asked Special Agent Toni Graham, an Army criminal investigator, whether she had talked to people who believed Manning was gay or found evidence among his belongings relating to gender-identity disorder, The Daily Mail reports.
Graham said such questions were irrelevant to the investigation.
“We already knew before we arrived that Pfc. Manning was a homosexual,” Graham added.
Prosecutors objected several times to the questions. Kemkes responded that if the government can argue that Manning intended to leak secrets, ‘what is going on in his client``s mind is very important.’
During its cross examination of Graham, Manning``s defense team also sought to convince the court that not all of the material he is accused of leaking is classified, the paper said.
Manning, 24, is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive items to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
The leaked secrets include Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 11 unarmed men.
The US had argued that the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America``s relations with other governments.