US whistleblower Bradley Manning trial begins
Iran Press TV
Mon Jun 3, 2013 4:20PM GMT
US Army whistleblower Private Bradley Manning has gone on trial in the State of Maryland, more than three years after he was arrested in Iraq.
The trial of the 25-year-old began at Fort Meade military base on Monday over charges of espionage and about 20 other offenses, while passing thousands of classified files and documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
In February, Manning admitted to passing sensitive information regarding military field reports and US diplomatic cables to the website before he was arrested in Iraq in May 2010.
The former intelligence analyst said he wanted to start a debate on the role of the US military and foreign policy including its "bloodlust" and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The presiding judge accepted a guilty plea that would have reduced about half of the alleged offenses. However, prosecutors moved forward with the case on charges including violations of the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
The overall charges may land Manning with a court-martial and a life-imprisonment sentence.
This marks the most high-profile case for the US President Barack Obama administration, which has come under criticism for its harsh crackdown on whistleblowers.
Over the weekend, thousands of protesters gathered outside the military camp outside of Washington and in other countries, to protest the negative portrayal of Manning's case by American media and politicians.
Demonstrations were also held in more than a dozen other countries worldwide, including Canada, France, Germany and South Korea, to protest Manning's trial in a military court.
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