Full court martial recommended for gay Wikileaks soldier
Bradley Manning, the gay soldier at the centre of a storm over leaked military information, has been recommended for a full court martial following a pre-trial hearing over Christmas.
Officials at Fort Meade, Maryland said there was sufficient evidence to proceed with Manning’s case, in which he stands accused of sending classified documents to Wikileaks.
The gay soldier, who was said to have struggled with his sexuality and gender identity in the army, was working as an intelligence specialist when he was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq.
He was charged with offences including making information available to the enemy and he faces life imprisonment if convicted.
Kevin Zeese, a legal adviser to the Bradley Manning Support Network said the “impact assessments […] showed that these WikiLeaks revelations posed no threat to our national security”.
But the defence team has also brought Manning’s sexuality, gender and mental state to the fore in the case.
One defence witness for the pre-trial hearing in December said Manning, 24, showed a picture of himself wearing women’s clothing to a superior and said he was struggling with his gender identity.
Captain Steven Lim, an intelligence officer and witness at the pre-trial hearing, said he sent the picture in an email to Master Sergeant Paul Adkins, but that Adkins did not act on the email until after Manning’s arrest.
A second witness told the hearing Manning had a Facebook page for his female alter ego, Breanna.
Sergeant 1st Class Troy Bettencourt added that Manning had been sent to Iraq despite being “unstable” because the armed forces were short of intelligence analysts.
In a statement, the US military said: “The investigating officer concluded that the charges and specifications are in the proper form and that reasonable grounds exist to believe that the accused committed the offenses alleged. He recommended that the charges be referred to a general court martial.”
Manning’s charges in full are for aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defence information, fraud and related activity in connection with computers, and the violation of Army Regulations 25-2 “Information Assurance” and 380-5 “Department of the Army Information Security Program”.