| FORT MEADE, Md., July 26
FORT MEADE, Md., July 26 Lawyers for the U.S.
soldier accused of the biggest leak of classified information in
the nation's history are due to make their closing remarks in
his court-martial on Friday.
Earlier in the case against Army Private First Class Bradley
Manning, defense lawyers portrayed the 25-year-old intelligence
analyst as well-meaning but naive, intending to provoke a
broader debate on U.S. military and diplomatic policy by
releasing the documents.
The most serious charge he faces, aiding the enemy, carries
a life sentence. He is accused of 21 counts of leaking more than
700,000 documents through the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website.
Prosecutors in closing arguments on Thursday said the short,
bespectacled Manning had betrayed the trust his nation put in
him when he released documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
"Manning had the general evil intent," said Major Ashden
Fein, the lead military prosecutor. "He acted voluntarily and
deliberately with his disclosures. He was not a whistleblower.
He was a traitor."
Closing statements for the prosecution lasted about five
The case has pitted civil liberties groups, which seek
increased transparency into the actions of the U.S. military and
security apparatus, against the government, which has argued
that the low-level intelligence analyst, who was stationed in
Baghdad at the time, endangered lives.
The case also illustrates the perils of granting so many
people access to classified information, said former CIA officer
Joseph Wippl, who is now a professor of international relations
at Boston University.
"He leaked information to which at least half a million
people had access," Wippl said. "Giving access to that many is
like laying a trap for lemmings. It was bound to happen."
Early in the proceedings on Thursday, Army Colonel Denise
Lind, who is presiding over the trial, denied a request by the
defense to find Manning not guilty of five of the counts related
to stealing information from government databases.
She also denied the defense's motion to declare a mistrial.
'AGENCY OF THE PEOPLE'
The WikiLeaks website, which in Manning's case published
classified files, combat videos and diplomatic cables, has
become controversial both for exposing secret data and for its
founder, Julian Assange, who has been staying in the Ecuadorean
Embassy in London for more than a year to avoid extradition to
Sweden for alleged sex crimes.
Fein said Manning's computers showed he had done more than
100 searches related to WikiLeaks, which he called the "first
intelligence agency of the people."
Manning was arrested in May 2010 while serving in Iraq.
He chose a trial by a military judge, rather than a panel of
In February, Manning pleaded guilty to lesser charges,
including misusing classified information, such as military
databases in Iraq and Afghanistan and files pertaining to
Guantanamo Bay detainees.
"I believe that if the general public ... had access to the
information ... this could spark a domestic debate as to the
role of the military and foreign policy in general," he read
from a prepared 35-page statement.
The prosecution maintained that Manning sought fame, not
Fein described a photo he said the soldier took of himself
after sending documents to WikiLeaks: "This is a picture of a
person who thought he'd finally become famous."
The court-martial has recently been overshadowed to some
extent by the case of fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward
Snowden, who revealed to Britain's Guardian newspaper early last
month the details of alleged secret U.S. surveillance programs
tracking Americans' telephone and Internet use.
(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Lisa