At a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for PFC Bradley Manning submitted a motion requesting that 10 of the 22 charges against their client be dropped.
Specifically, Manning’s legal team argued for dismissal of eight specifications of having violated the Espionage Act, as well as two charges of exceeding authorized access.
Manning’s attorneys previously petitioned the military judge presiding over their client’s court martial to drop other charges facing Manning that they claimed were duplications. That motion was denied.
The request to drop the eight counts of illegal transmission of classified information in violation of the Espionage Act is based on the defense’s argument that the intent of the Espionage Act was not to include “this kind of conduct.” Manning’s lawyers insist that these charges in particular are void for being vague and overbroad. The government, they argue, is using these catchall charges in order to criminalize what otherwise amounts to protected free speech.
In what is described as “the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history,” Manning is accused of passing over 700,000 documents and video clips to WikiLeaks, the widely known website devoted to exposing government corruption throughout the world.
If convicted of the charge of giving aid to the enemy, Manning could face life imprisonment. The maximum penalty for the other charges he faces is 150 years combined.
Manning’s defense team avers that their client was “troubled” and that he was not competent to have been allowed access to classified information.
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Photo: Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, right, is escorted from a security vehicle outside a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., June 7, 2012, for a pre-trial hearing: AP Images