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Case against gay WikiLeaks soldier goes forward

The prosecution is laying out its charges against the young soldier blamed for the largest leak of classified material in American history in a case that may hinge on whether the U.S. government overzealously stamped "secret" on material posing no national security risk.

The AP reported that the long-awaited military court case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the accused source for the WikiLeaks website's trove of U.S. military and diplomatic secrets, is moving ahead.

Manning, a one-time intelligence analyst stationed in Baghdad, is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive items including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

The Obama administration says the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America's relations with other governments.

Manning's first appearance in public after 19 months in detention came Dec. 16 at Fort Meade, Md.

Manning, a native of Crescent, Okla., who turned 24 on Dec. 17, is relying on a defense that will argue much of the classified information posed no risk.

The Justice Department has a separate criminal investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A U.S. grand jury is weighing whether to indict Assange on espionage charges, even as he is in Britain fighting a Swedish request that he be extradited because of rape allegations.

Manning's hearing at the Army post outside Washington is open to the public, with limited seating. No civilian recording equipment is allowed. Instead of a judge, a presiding officer delivers a recommendation as to whether prosecutors have enough evidence to bring a suspect to trial. A military commander then makes the final decision.

The case has spawned an international support network of people who believe the U.S. government has gone too far in seeking to punish Manning, and a few dozen showed up outside Fort Meade on Dec. 16 to rally on his behalf.

“I plan to march all night tonight and bring as much attention as I can to put the entire country on notice that we have a hero who's standing trial for nothing more than telling the truth," said Dan Choi, a gay West Point graduate discharged from the military for revealing his sexual orientation. He wore a bright orange "Bradley Manning Support Network" sticker on the lapel of his uniform jacket.

Source: Associated Press

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