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TRUTH ON TRIAL - Trial begins in espionage case of Bradley Manning over WikiLeaks documents (LIVESTREAM REPLAY)

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The court-martial trail begins Monday for Bradley Manning, the Army private who has already admitted to sending more than 700,000 war-related and other classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks.

The trial in the 3-year-old espionage case begins after months of pretrial hearings and will be held in Fort Meade, in Maryland, about 30 miles north of the White House.

Pfc. Manning is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by causing classified material to be published on WikiLeaks, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Manning has admitted to sending the material to Wikileaks — an online, non-profit group that publishes secret and classified information from anonymous sources. He did so after accessing a supposedly secure government computer network, then downloading the information — Afghan and Iraq battlefield reports, State Department cables and video of a U.S. Apache helicopter attack that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

The 25-year-old Manning said in a statement in February that he leaked the material because he wanted the public to know how the American military was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with little regard for human life.

He got the information while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010.

Manning, an Oklahoma native, faces a total 22 counts.

Last week, Manning’s lawyers said they had reached a deal that may eliminate the need for testimony from a member of the military team that killed Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden.

Prosecutors also agreed to accept Manning’s guilty plea to a lesser version of one of the counts.

Under the agreement, the prosecution and defense teams would acknowledge evidence at the trial that indicated bin Laden saw some of the material Manning released. The raid team member, presumably a Navy SEAL, was expected to testify that the evidence was recovered during the May 2011 raid that killed bin Laden inside his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

However, the deal must be approved by military judge Army Col. Denise Lind, who also presided over the pretrial hearings.

The trial is expected to last through the summer.

Prosecutors have already changed their minds about trying to convict Manning of violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in connection with the release of a State Department cable known as Reykjavik-13.

WikiLeaks posted the cable in early 2010 about a meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, summarizing U.S. Embassy discussions with Icelandic officials about the country’s financial troubles.

Manning said in his Feb. 28 confession that he thought the cable indicated the United States was refusing to help the Icelandic government “due to the lack of long-term geopolitical benefit.”


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