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Bradley Manning trial opens today



Traitor or whistle-blower

A US court martial is going to decide if Private Bradley Manning is a traitor or a whistle blower. Manning spilled shedloads of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks in a data leak which damaged the US government.

He has been locked up for three years without a trial as it is clear that the government wants to make sure of its case against him. Military prosecutors will claim he aided the enemy, put friends of the US at risk and embarrassed overseas diplomatic allies.

The case will not he heard by a jury and will be held behind closed doors with no press, public or outside stenographers present. The reason is that some witnesses may provide classified information. The trial is set to last until the end of August. Manning faces 22 charges, the most serious of which include violating the 1917-era US Espionage Act and aiding the enemy. If he is found guilty he may spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Among the 150 or so witnesses due to testify against Manning are members of the US Navy Seal team that carried out the lethal raid against Osama bin Laden. They will claim that information given to WikiLeaks was found among materials in bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout.

In a long statement, read out in the February pre-trial hearing, Manning indicated that he become depressed when the government was risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to cooperate with us.

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