Manning argues that charges be dropped

Nov. 28, 2012 at 11:38 AM
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FORT MEADE, Md., Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army private accused of leaking data to WikiLeaks was in stringent custody due to the charges and his behavior, a retired Marine official testified.

Retired Marine Col. Daniel J. Choike, the former commander of the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., told the military court at Fort Meade, Md., Tuesday he agreed with the brig staff that Bradley Manning should be on prevention-of-injury status because of his history, the seriousness of the charges against him and what he called his "erratic behavior," The Baltimore Sun reported.

The 24-year-old private first class is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks and faces a court-martial next year on charges that include violating the Espionage Act and aiding the enemy.

Manning's lawyers want all charges dismissed, arguing the conditions were so "egregious" at Quantico, where Manning was detained from July 2010 through April 2011, that they amounted to pretrial punishment, violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the U.S. Constitution. If the charges aren't dismissed, they have asked that Manning receive credit for time served against any sentence he receives.

Choike testified Tuesday Manning met several criteria for prevention-of-injury status, including the seriousness of the charges, strained family relations and what he called "erratic behavior," such as dancing in his cell, playing peek-a-boo and licking the bars, the Sun said.

David Coombs, Manning's attorney, asked Choike if he was aware of weekly reports stating Manning didn't display any disciplinary issues; was polite, respectful and courteous to brig staff, and that mental health professionals recommended he be removed from prevention-of-injury status. Choike said he knew of the reports as well as others that indicated Manning was depressed and withdrawn.

Manning's lawyers and the military judge hearing his court-martial also addressed procedural issues concerning the possibility of a guilty plea to minor charges, CNN reported.

One issue concerned whether a guilty plea would mean Manning waives his right to a speedy trial on the other counts.

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