Private Bradley Manning has faced his first day in the dock in Fort Meade, Maryland. He stands accused of publishing the biggest leak of classified information in US history on the Wikileaks website. Both sides painted pictures of the soldier which stood in stark contrast with one another.
Prosecutor Capt Joe Morrow called the case an example of what happened “when arrogance meets access”. The defence claimed he was a naive young army private who wished to reveal the human costs of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Wikileaks placed a van in the car park outside the trial with a sign reading, “Mobile Information Collection Unit”. Sympathisers rallied to defend Manning’s actions.
“I think Bradley Manning did more than anyone to end the Iraq war by revealing the helicopter massacre of children, journalists, civilians and it shocked the conscience of the world,” said one campaigner outside the trial.
“I think he did the right thing. He did what he was supposed to do, report war crimes,” added another Free Bradley activist.
Manning faces 21 counts including the most serious, aiding the enemy. He has pleaded guilty to the lesser charges.
Euronews correspondent Dr. Stefan Grobe in Fort Meade said:
“Bradley Manning is facing prison for life without parole. But the government is facing a huge credibility gap. Together with the recent Washington scandals, the Manning court-martial has the potential to further undermine trust in the Obama administration.”
Recent scandals affecting Washington include secretly obtaining phone records of The Associated Press journalists. The US Justice Department was seeking a journalist’s source of information after the AP published in a story on May 7, 2012 about a foiled terror plot.