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US army forced to release WikiLeaks docs

10:03 Thu Feb 28 2013
AAP

The US Army has published dozens of documents online in the case of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning, after media outlets and other groups had criticised a lack of transparency.

The move came in response to multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to the case against Manning, who stands accused of passing a trove of secret files to Julian Assange's anti-secrecy WikiLeaks website.

Among the organisations that demanded access to the pre-trial documents were The Washington Post, CNN and the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which all said they had been prevented from informing the public about the case.

Such documents have been sealed based on requests either by the prosecution or defence lawyers in the case against Manning, which is being heard in a military court at Fort Meade, Maryland, north of the US capital Washington.

In federal civilian court, similar types of documents are nearly always made public.

Even in the military commissions at the Guantanamo detention facility, where pre-trial hearings in the case against the 9/11 plotters are being heard, military lawyers have made such documents available.

On Wednesday, 84 court orders and rulings were released in the Manning case, including a partial transcription of a deposition made by Manning.

The 25-year-old Army private faces a slew of charges, including "aiding the enemy," for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive US military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.

He was arrested in May 2010 while serving as an intelligence analyst near Baghdad and subsequently charged over the largest leak of restricted documents in American history. The trial is expected to begin in June.

The most serious of the 22 charges against him, "aiding the enemy," carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but Manning's team is trying to have that charge dropped.