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Judge refuses to drop charges in Manning case

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A military judge has denied a motion to drop some of the charges against WikiLeaks suspect Private Bradley Manning, and said his trial would is likely to be delayed until November.

The judge, Denise Lind, on Friday rejected defence motions to dismiss 10 of 22 charges against Manning for allegedly spilling a trove of US intelligence secrets to WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website.

The judge rejected the claim that eight charges of unauthorised possession and disclosure of classified information were "unconstitutionally vague," noting that the Supreme Court had rejected similar claims and had concluded there was no uncertainty in the law. "The court finds there's no uncertainty in the statute," she said.

On the third and final day of preliminary hearings, Lind also denied the defence's bid to drop two additional charges that Manning exceeded his authorisation to use the US Defence Department intranet.

She did, though, ask the government to provide more details on the charges.

The ruling "raises the burden on the government to prove more things," a military official told the AP news agency. "The government could dismiss [the two charges] or change them to make them survive."

Lind said the military trial, which had been scheduled for late September, would now be pushed back either to November or January so that more preliminary hearings could be held. The next is scheduled for June 25.

'Degrading treatment'

Manning could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of aiding the enemy by handing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, and sensitive diplomatic cables, to WikiLeaks. He has not yet entered a plea.

The leak triggered a diplomatic firestorm that left US officials red-faced over criticism of both allies and foes.

Manning was transferred a year ago from a military prison at Quantico, Virginia, where he had been imprisoned since July 2010, to another in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 

During his eight months of solitary confinement at Quantico, Manning was subjected to "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment," according to a UN special rapporteur.


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