November 22, 2011
Preliminary Hearing Set For Wikileaks Suspect Manning
The US Army analyst accused of leaking a vast number of government secrets to the Wikileaks website will make his first court appearance on December 16, various media outlets reported Monday.
According to Luis Martinez of ABC News, the Military District of Washington announced that the Article 32 hearing of Private Bradley Manning had been scheduled on that date. The hearing will take place at Fort Meade, Maryland, and will mark Manning's first public appearance since the former intelligence analyst was first arrested back in May 2010.
The Article 32 hearing will determine whether or not Manning will face a court martial, and according to BBC News, it will be the first time that his defense team has had an opportunity to present their side of the story. Manning, 23, faces possible life imprisonment under charges that he aided the enemy -- a capital offense, Martinez reports, but one that the military will not seek the death penalty for.
Ed Pilkington of the Guardian also notes that Manning faces multiple counts of obtaining and distributing state secrets to unauthorized parties. He has been accused of providing Wikileaks with more than 50 of the approximately 150,000 top secret US government cables they have published online. Even if found not guilty of aiding the enemy, Manning could face up to 52 years of imprisonment on these charges.
"Article 32 hearings are the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury, where military prosecutors present evidence and witnesses that could lead to a court-martial," the ABC News reporter wrote on Monday.
"Unlike civilian proceedings, Article 32's are open to the public and defense attorneys have the right to cross-examine witnesses and to present evidence," he added. "The investigating officer presiding over the hearing will then make a recommendation as to whether the case should proceed to a court martial."
According to a blog post by Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, the proceeding is expected to last five days, and except for the times that confidential information is being discussed, the hearing will be open to the general public.
"Our office is committed to providing the best representation for PFC Manning during this upcoming hearing," Coombs said in that blog post. "Achieving this goal is the sole focus of the lawyers, experts, and administrative staff working on this case."
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