The military judge in the trial of Army Private Bradley Manning has refused to drop the charge against him of aiding the enemy, reports say. This development does not mean that Manning will be convicted of aiding the enemy. It means the charge against him will be allowed to stand.
Reports say, if convicted of this most serious charge, Manning could go to prison for the rest of his life. Manning has admitted to being the source of a major intelligence leak.
He reportedly gave over 700,000 military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Because some of the material was found in Osama bin Laden’s compound, Bradley has been charged with aiding the enemy.
Civil liberties groups say this development will have chilling effect on whistle blowers.
“The aiding the enemy charge is not only unconstitutional, it is unnecessary,” Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union said earlier.
“The point of charging Manning in this way is to transform what was widely seen around the world as a valuable leak into treason. The government purports to criminalize any information that is published somewhere where the enemy can see it.”
Manning is accused of breaking military computer security and leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. He faces 22 charges including the charge of aiding the enemy.
By Perviz Walji