One year, six months, and three weeks after he was first jailed in a military brig in Kuwait, alleged WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning will have his day in court: According to ablog post Monday from his lawyer David Coombs, the Army private first class will have a pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland on December 16th, a day before his 24th birthday, to examine the government’s charges and evidence and determine whether to proceed with the case against him.
According to Coombs:
The primary purpose of the Article 32 hearing is to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case as well as to provide the defense with an opportunity to obtain pretrial discovery. The defense is entitled to call witnesses during the hearing and to also cross examine the government’s witnesses. Each witness who testifies is placed under oath; their testimony can therefore be used during the trial for impeachment purposes or as prior testimony should the witness become unavailable.
Since he was befriended and exposed by the hacker Adrian Lamo, Manning has been accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks that include a video that showed an Apache helicopter firing on civilians in Baghdad, 91,000 secret files from the war in Afghanistan, about 391,000 classified files from the war in Iraq, and another 251,000 State Department Cables, by far the largest public breach of classified data in history. He’s been charged with crimes including computer fraud, theft of records, and “aiding the enemy,” which carries a potential death sentence, although prosecutors have said they’ll only seek life in prison.