FORT MEADE, Md. – A military judge refused on Wednesday to throw out the case against an Army private accused of providing reams of sensitive documents to Wikileaks in the biggest leak of government secrets in U.S. history.
Army Col. Denise Lind denied the defense motion to dismiss all 22 charges during a pretrial hearing in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. The hearing continued after the ruling and is scheduled to run through Thursday.
The defense has filed several motions seeking dismissal of individual charges, including the most serious, aiding the enemy. That offense carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Lind scheduled Manning’s trial for Sept. 21 through Oct. 12. She also scheduled four more hearings in June, July, August and September.
Manning hasn’t entered a plea to the charges. He also hasn’t yet decided whether he will be tried by a judge or a jury.
He is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to Wikileaks, the anti-secrecy website run by Julian Assange, in late 2009 and early 2010. The government says the publication of that material online aided al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Lind also ruled Wednesday that Army prosecutors don’t have to provide the defense with transcripts of federal grand jury testimony about the WikiLeaks disclosures. Manning’s lawyers were seeking transcripts from a federal investigation into whether Assange can be prosecuted for the disclosure of information that authorities say was provided by Manning.
Lind said that while the FBI and the Army have jointly pursued a WikiLeaks investigation, military prosecutors have no authority to release FBI documents.
The 24-year-old Oklahoma native was ordered court-martialed after he was accused of downloading the documents and diplomatic cables, then sending them to WikiLeaks. He was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad when authorities say he copied classified material from government computers in late 2009 and early 2010.
The material WikiLeaks published included cockpit video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack that killed a number of civilians, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. The U.S. government says the civilian deaths were accidental.
Manning has been in pretrial confinement since he was charged in May 2010. His treatment at a Marine Corps base caused support for him to swell. The Quantico, Va., brig commander kept Manning confined 23 hours a day in a single-bed cell, citing safety and security concerns. For several days in March 2011, he was forced to sleep naked, purportedly for injury prevention, before he was issued a suicide-prevention smock.
Manning’s supporters have raised funds to place posters in the Washington Metro subway system this week portraying him as a whistleblower, patriot and hero.