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US WikiLeaks Suspect's Hearing Set to Conclude Thursday

VOA News December 22, 2011

A hearing to determine whether a U.S. Army intelligence analyst will be court martialed for allegedly passing classified documents to WikiLeaks is expected to conclude on Thursday.

Prosecutors and attorneys for Private First Class Bradley Manning will present closing arguments during proceedings at Fort Meade, Maryland - outside of Washington. Manning faces 22 charges including aiding the enemy.

On Wednesday, experts for the prosecution testified they found evidence the intelligence analysts downloaded diplomatic cables onto music compact discs that were sent to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

During the six days of testimony, Manning's lawyers have described their client as a troubled man who should not have been allowed access to classified material while serving in Iraq between November 2009 and May 2010.

Lawyers also said the military's oversight of the computers was lax, citing testimony by their witnesses that soldiers played video games on the computers.

Manning, who has not entered a plea, allegedly shared the documents with WikiLeaks, which began publishing them in July 2010.

He has been in custody for 19 months. The presiding officer over the hearing is expected render a decision no later than January 16 on whether Manning is court martialed.

He could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty.

The leaked diplomatic cables and military reports roiled the international community, often providing blunt and unflattering U.S. views of world leaders' private and public lives.

U.S. officials say WikiLeaks' publication of the stolen documents put lives in danger, threatened national security and undermined American efforts to work with other countries.

Meantime, Britain's Supreme Court has ruled last week that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could appeal his extradition to Sweden to face unrelated accusations of sex crimes.

Assange denies the allegations of sexual assault and says they are politically motivated because WikiLeaks released classified U.S. documents.

Assange will remain free on bail in Britain until his Supreme Court hearing on February 1.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.



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