Fort G. Meade, 4409 Llewellyn Avenue, Maryland, 20755
Date: Friday, December 16, 2011
24-year old Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010 on suspicion that he was the source of the huge database of US embassy cables that was passed without permission to WikiLeaks. Manning has subsequently spent the last 18 months in confinement, much of it in the early stages in conditions that some say were tantamount to torture.
WikiLeaks has never confirmed whether Manning was the source of the classified material which later went on to be released during Cablegate, however the whistle-blowing website will call 50 witnesses to today's military hearing which will transform the case into a detailed legal battle over the merits of the prosecution against Manning.
This case has generated much support from the wider community, with Manning sympathisers donating $130,000 to his legal fees. Some of the witnesses expected to take part in the hearing range from whistle-blowing experts to IT specialists who will comment on Manning's access to intelligence databases. Manning's defence is being led by civilian lawyer, David Coombs, who has avoided contact with the media ahead of the start of the military process.
Overall, Manning is accused of 16 counts of wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy; five counts of theft of public property or records; eight of transmitting defence information; two of fraud in connection with computers and five of violating army information security. If convicted of all charges, Manning faces a maximum sentence of confinement for life.