Wikileaks:US government presents evidence against Bradley Manning case

The US government presented evidence in court yesterday that the material private first class (pfc) Bradley Manning handed over to anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks revealed sensitive information about military operations and tactics, including code words and the name of at least one enemy target.

According to Manning, a 25-year-old Oklahoma native, he did not believe that the over 700,000 battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and video clips he leaked while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad would hurt national security. Prosecutors want him convicted of aiding the enemy, which carried a potential life sentence, for leaking information that ended up with Osama bin Laden.

Prosecutors presented evidence for the first time that Manning's leaks compromised sensitive information in dozens of categories. The evidence, which was read in court, came in the form of written statements that defence and prosecution lawyers accepted as substitutions for live testimony.

According to a statement, by a classification expert, retired air force Lt Col Martin Nehring, his review of Afghanistan and Iraq battlefield reports revealed techniques for neutralising improvised explosives, the name of an enemy target, the names of criminal suspects and troop movements.

The evidence also included leaked material from the army's investigation into a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan's Farah province. According to the investigation, a bomb from a B-1 bomber killed 26 civilians, at least 78 Taliban fighters and five Afghan police officers. According to local officials the attack killed 140 villagers.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Manning's court-martial for giving hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks entered its second week as a brand-new leak by another low-level intelligence employee brought the case in sharp relief.
 
According to commentators, like Manning, Edward Snowden could find himself hauled into court by the US government following his going public, as the source of the leak who exposed the nation's secret phone and internet surveillance programmes to reporters.

According to legal experts as they closely followed both cases, it came as a quite a shock to them that young, low-ranking people had had such access to powerful government secrets. Manning was 22 at the time when he handed over the military and diplomatic cables about three years ago; while Snowden is 29.

Legal experts pointed out differences between the two cases, namely that Manning's secret-spilling was more scattershot, while Snowden took a more selective approach.

Manning is facing charges under federal espionage and computer fraud laws and the most serious charge against him was aiding the enemy, which carried a potential life sentence.