By Pauline Jelinek and Eric Tucker
The Associated Press
FORT MEADE, Md. — Lawyers for the Army private who leaked a trove of classified government documents urged a judge Monday to dismiss a charge he aided the enemy, saying prosecutors failed to prove Pfc. Bradley Manning intended for the information to fall into enemy hands.
The charge is the most serious and carries the most severe punishment — life in prison — in the case against Manning, who has admitted he sent hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.
The trial against the 25-year-old Army private is drawing to a close on a military base outside Baltimore and a judge hearing the government’s case is weighing whether to dismiss that charge and several lesser counts.
Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, argued that Manning could have sold the documents, which included battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables, or given them directly to the enemy. Instead, he gave them to WikiLeaks in an attempt to “spark reform” and provoke debate. He said Manning had no way of knowing whether Al-Qaida would access the secret-spilling website and said a military report from 2008 showed the government didn’t even know.
“What better proof that PFC Manning wouldn’t know then that the United States Army doesn’t know if the enemy goes to WikiLeaks,” Coombs said.
The government has said Manning indirectly aided the enemy by allowing for the information, which he downloaded in 2009 and 2010 from a classified government network, by allowing the information to be posted online. Prosecutors say the former intelligence analyst had received sophisticated computer training and would have understood that al-Qaida could have