The US Army private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, didn’t enter a plea at the beginning of his court martial, the Daily Mail is reporting. The 24-year-old, who has 22 charges against him, has also deferred the choice of whether he wants to be tried by a military jury or judge alone. If convicted of leaking the information, he could face a life term.
Military judge Col. Denise Lind presided over the hearing, which lasted 50 minutes and was held at Fort Meade near Baltimore. Manning only spoke half a dozen times, only responding to such questions as if he understood the proceedings or had any questions.
While Manning’s defense attorney, David Coombs, proposed a trial date be set in April 2012, Lind didn’t set a date. She did schedule another court session for March 15-16. Coombs said the government’s proposed calendar could push the start of the trial to August 3, which he added could jeopardize his client’s right to a speedy trial.
Manning, who has been in pretrial confinement since May 2010, is charged with such counts as aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The Oklahoma native allegedly gave the anti-secrecy website more than 700,000 documents and video clips. Defense lawyers are saying Manning was emotionally troubled, and shouldn’t have had access to the classified material, or have been sent to Iraq for a tour of duty.
Written by: Karen Benardello