Defense Makes Its Case in Manning WikiLeaks Trial

July 26,2013

The defense summarized its case Friday in the court-martial trial of Bradley Manning - the Army private who sent hundreds of thousands of U.S. government documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The case will now go to the judge for deliberations.
Defense Makes Its Case in Manning WikiLeaks Trial
Bradley Manning's defense attorney David Coombs and his wife arrive at court for closing remarks in Manning's trial at Fort Meade, Maryland, July 26, 2013.

In his closing arguments Friday, defense attorney David Coombs said Private First Class Bradley Manning is a whistleblower who acted in the U.S. national interest by exposing what he believed was wrongdoing by U.S. forces during the war in Iraq, where he was deployed. The materials he leaked included a video showing U.S. soldiers in Baghdad opening fire on a group of civilians that included journalists working for the Reuters news agency. After showing parts of that video in court, Coombs said the loss of civilian lives shocked and horrified the young soldier.

Manning is charged with 21 offenses, but the most serious is aiding the enemy. That charge carries a possible sentence of up to life in prison.

In their closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors called Manning a traitor - who released more than 700,000 classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, knowing the material would be seen by the terrorist group al-Qaida. They portrayed Manning as an emotionally troubled individual who was confused about his gender, had trouble relating to others, and was seeking fame and attention in releasing classified material.

It is not clear at this stage how Manning’s leaks - as massive as they were - affected national security.

Manning has already pleaded guilty to charges of leaking the documents - charges that could get him 20 years in prison. A military judge - Army Colonel Denise Lind - is hearing the case at Manning's request instead of a jury.