Bradley Manning gets his day in court

The army intelligence analyst who is suspected of leaking classified and sensitive documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, is finally going to get a day in court. How useful that will be to someone who has spent the last year and a half in solitary confinement is debatable.

Bradley Manning will have an Article 32 hearing which will start on December 16 and it will last five days. This is a military procedure which is a bit like a depositions hearing. It will see prosecutors lay out their evidence before a judge who will determine if the case is strong enough for Manning to face a court-martial.

To make sure they get a court-martial, the Army has filed 22 counts against Manning, including a charge of “aiding the enemy”. It is not clear who the enemy was, unless it helped the Taliban when the US army was shown shooting unarmed Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists while laughing.

“Aiding the enemy” is a capital charge, though the government has said they will not seek the death penalty if they can make that one stick.

Other charges include five counts of theft of public property or records, two counts of computer fraud, eight counts of transmitting defence information in violation of the Espionage Act, and one count of wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing it would be accessible to the enemy.

The Army has said that if he is convicted, Manning could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The hearing will be open to the media and public, except for points in the proceedings where classified information may be discussed.

It is the first time that Manning’s defence has an opportunity to hear the government’s entire case against him.

Writing in his blog, Manning’s brief, David Coombs said that the defense will also see copies of the criminal investigation files and witness statements.