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Judge Won't Drop Aiding Enemy Charge Against Manning

NPR icon by Eyder Peralta
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Patrick Semansky

The judge presiding over the military trial of leaker Bradley Manning has declined to drop the most serious charge against him.

The AP reports that Col. Denise Lind said she would allow the government to proceed with a case accusing Manning of aiding the enemy, a charge punishable by life in prison. Lind, the AP reports, found the government had enough evidence to support the charges.

Manning, who has admitted to perpetrating the largest leak of classified data in U.S. history, has pleaded guilty to lesser charges, but has always the denied aiding the enemy.

As we've explained, to prove the "aiding the enemy" charge, the government has to prove Manning leaked the information with the intent to help an enemy.

The New York Times explains further:

"The decision of the judge, Col. Denise Lind, centered on the prosecution's evidence that some of the classified documents Private Manning admitted giving to WikiLeaks were posted on the Internet and later reached Osama bin Laden.

"The judge heard a request from the defense on Monday to drop the charge. David E. Coombs, the lead defense lawyer, argued that Private Manning did not have 'actual knowledge' that by leaking the documents to WikiLeaks he was aiding the enemy.

"In the past, the government had argued that through his extensive training, Private Manning should have known that the information could end up with groups that wanted to harm American military personnel. But the government acknowledged Monday that 'should have known' was not enough to define 'actual knowledge.'"

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