US soldier accused in Wikileaks case due in court
(AP) -- A U.S. Army private accused of leaking classified material to the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks could soon learn when his trial will start.
Pfc. Bradley Manning was scheduled to appear in a military courtroom at Fort Meade, near Baltimore, on Thursday and Friday. During his most recent hearing in late February, no trial date was set, though the timing was discussed. A military judge is expected to set a firmer schedule this week.
Military prosecutors say Manning, a 24-year-old Oklahoma native, downloaded and transferred to Wikileaks nearly half a million sensitive battlefield reports. That included hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and a video of a deadly 2007 Army helicopter attack that WikiLeaks shared with the world and dubbed "Collateral Murder." Defense lawyers say Manning was a troubled soldier who shouldn't have had access to classified material and that the leaked material did little or no harm to national security.
During Manning's last hearing, which lasted less than an hour, Manning declined to enter a plea to the 22 counts he faces, including aiding the enemy, which could result in life imprisonment. He also put off choosing whether to be tried by a military jury or judge alone. Manning could make those decisions Thursday or Friday, but could also wait until slightly before trial to choose a judge or jury and could enter a plea at the start of his trial.
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