Prosecutors: Manning abused his country’s trust
FORT MEADE, Maryland (AP) — U.S. soldier Bradley Manning was a traitor with one mission as an intelligence analyst in Iraq: to find and reveal government secrets to a group of anarchists and bask in the glory as a whistleblower, a prosecutor said during closing arguments.
Maj. Ashden Fein said Manning betrayed his country’s trust and gave classified information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, knowing the material would be seen by al-Qaida. Even Osama bin Laden had some of the digital files at his compound in Pakistan when he was killed, the prosecutor said.
“WikiLeaks was merely the platform which Pfc. Manning used to ensure all the information was available for the world, including enemies of the United States,” Fein said.
Manning is charged with 21 offenses, but the most serious is aiding the enemy, which carries a possible sentence of up to life in prison.
Defense attorneys will present their closing arguments Friday.
Manning, 25, was not the troubled, naive soldier defense attorneys have made him out to be, Fein said. He displayed a smiling photo of Manning from 2010 when he was visiting relatives while on leave.
Fein said: “This is a gleeful, grinning Pfc. Manning” who sent battlefield reports to WikiLeaks, accompanied by the message: “Have a good day.”
Manning has acknowledged giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and videos in late 2009 and early 2010. But he says he didn’t believe the information would harm troops in Afghanistan and Iraq or threaten national security.
Prosecutors must prove Manning knew al-Qaida would see the material to get a conviction on the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. They presented evidence Manning knew “the enemy” in general used the Internet, and that leakers with evil intent might use WikiLeaks to spill secrets.
Fein’s closing remarks, including calling Manning a traitor, struck a chord with his supporters.
As court recessed for the day, a man said, “You’re a hero, Bradley, as far as I’m concerned.” Several others murmured support for Manning in what became a loud buzz.
The judge angrily shouted, “Gallery, that’s enough!”
Defense attorney David Coombs said supporters on Friday would hear what truth sounds like
Fein said Manning relied on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for guidance on what to leak, starting within two weeks of his arrival in Iraq in November 2009.
Referring to a “Most Wanted Leaks” list the organization published, Fein said WikiLeaks sought almost exclusively information about the U.S.
Federal authorities also are looking into whether Assange can be prosecuted. He has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex crimes allegations.
Manning pleaded guilty earlier this year to reduced versions of some charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison for those offenses, but prosecutors pressed ahead with the original charges.