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Manning Formally Charged; Enters No Plea

Manning Formally Charged; Enters No Plea

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Bradley Manning, the gay soldier accused of providing classified government documents to website WikiLeaks, was formally charged today but postponed entering a plea, the Associated Press reports.

There are 22 charges against Manning, including aiding the enemy, which in his case carries a maximum sentence of life in prison (it can carry the death penalty, which prosecutors decided not to seek for Manning). The other charges have a maximum combined sentence of 150 years.

A plea can be entered up until the beginning of a trial. Manning also deferred a decision on whether to be tried by a military judge or by a jury. Col. Denise Lind, the military judge who presided over today's proceedings at Fort Meade, Md., scheduled another court session for March 15-16 but did not set a trial date. Manning's defense team wants a trial no later than June, while government lawyers said they might not be ready until August. The defense says that would interfere with Manning's right to a speedy trial.

Manning, arrested in May 2010, is accused of providing WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents. His lawyers say he was in a fragile emotional state and should not have been allowed access to such documents, nor should he have been sent to Iraq, where he was serving prior to his arrest. It has been reported that Manning was unhappy about conditions created by the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and that he had consulted a therapist about gender identity issues.

After his arrest, he spent nearly a year in solitary confinement under harsh conditions in a maximum-security military prison in Quantico, Va. Several human rights activists spoke out against his treatment, and he was transferred to a medium-security facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last spring, where his circumstances reportedly improved. Read an Advocate commentary on Manning's case here.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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