WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – CHINA US military judge cleared the way for a member of the team that raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan to testify at the trial of an army private charged in a massive leak of US secrets to the WikiLeaks website.
Colonel Denise Lind ruled for the prosecution during a court-martial pretrial hearing for Private Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, near Baltimore. Prosecutors say the witness, presumably a Navy SEAL, collected digital evidence showing that the al-Qaeda leader requested and received from an associate some of the documents Manning has acknowledged sending to WikiLeaks.
Defence lawyers had argued that proof of receipt wasn’t relevant to whether Manning aided the enemy, the most serious charge he faces, punishable by life imprisonment. The judge disagreed. “The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the intelligence is given to and received by the enemy,” Lind said.
The ruling means prosecutors can call the witness during the main phase of the trial. They otherwise could have used his testimony only for sentencing purposes.The witness has been publicly identified only as “John Doe” and as a Defence Department operator – a designation given to SEALs. Prosecutors say he participated with a SEAL team in their May 2011 assault on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed. His testimony would help establish a chain of custody for the evidence from its recovery to its analysis by a computer expert.
Earlier, Lind denied a government motion seeking to lower the bar for convicting Manning of violating the Espionage Act. He is charged with eight counts of that offence. Lind ruled, contrary to the motion, that prosecutors must prove Manning had reason to believe that the information he leaked could hurt the United States or help a foreign nation.
Manning pleaded guilty in February to lesser versions of some of the 22 charges he faces. Prosecutors have said they still intend to prove him guilty of all the original charges. His trial is scheduled to start on June 3 at Fort Meade.