Bradley Manning: US government must drop 'aiding the enemy' charge

‘The government’s case for “aiding the enemy” is ludicrous. The government should withdraw that charge’ - Widney Brown

The US government should immediately drop the “aiding the enemy” charge against Bradley Manning, Amnesty International said today after the conclusion of all testimony in the case.

Manning’s lawyers have asked the judge to dismiss these and other charges in a motion filed last weekend. Meanwhile, last week prosecutors withdrew a charge that Manning had leaked intelligence to a “classified enemy”.

To prove the charge that Manning has “aided the enemy” the US government must establish that he gave potentially damaging intelligence information to an enemy, and that he did so knowingly, with what presiding judge Colonel Denise Lind called “a general evil intent”.

The prosecution has struggled throughout the trial to make a convincing case for this charge. Its own witnesses repeatedly told the court that they found no evidence that Manning was sympathetic towards al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, that he had never expressed disloyalty to his country, that they had no evidence that he had ties to any government other than his own, and that they had no reason to believe he had ever collected money for the information he disclosed.

Instead, government witnesses have testified, for example, that Manning was involved in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and is on “the extreme Democratic side” in political terms.

Amnesty International’s Senior Director for International Law and Policy Widney Brown said:

“We’ve now seen the evidence presented by both sides, and it’s abundantly clear that the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ has no basis. 

“The government’s case for ‘aiding the enemy’ is ludicrous. The government should withdraw that charge.

“The prosecution should also take a long, hard look at its entire case and move to drop all other charges that aren’t supported by the evidence presented.

“What’s surprising is that the prosecutors in this case, who have a duty to act in the interest of justice, have pushed a theory that making information available on the internet - whether through WikiLeaks, in a personal blog posting, or on the website of the New York Times - can amount to ‘aiding the enemy’.”

In fact, said Amnesty, at times it has appeared that prosecutors in the case have been putting WikiLeaks, rather than Manning, on trial.  The charges against Manning do not include conspiracy with WikiLeaks or any other entity, so the relevance of this aspect of the prosecution’s case has been unclear.

The government has also faced challenges in proving lesser charges. Manning is charged, among other offences, with the use of unauthorised software and other alleged violations of similar operating procedures. But one special agent testifying for the prosecution told the court that at least one of the programmes Manning was accused of illegally adding to his computer was in fact used by everyone in his intelligence cell. Other software used by Manning was not expressly prohibited by commanders, the court heard.

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