FORT MEADE, February 26 - RAPSI. In its case against former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who stands accused of having disclosed classified information to Wikileaks, the US government told a military court Tuesday that it plans to call as a witness a Navy Seal that may have been involved in the 2011 operation that purportedly killed Osama Bin Ladin, according to a Guardian report.
The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington reported that the US intended to introduce this particular witness in order to advance the theory that Bin Ladin had specifically sought out some of the information that Manning disclosed to Wikileaks in order to support its “aiding the enemy” charge against the disgraced analyst.
The witness is expected to attest to the fact that he entered Bin Ladin’s compound and obtained physical evidence that Bin Ladin had procured the Wikileaks information at issue, according to the report.
Manning is currently in engaged in pre-trial proceedings at a military court in Fort Meade, Maryland.
According to Manning’s advocacy website, Manning is accused of having leaked a video showing US soldiers killing unarmed civilians in Iraq, including a photographer for Reuters and his driver. He is further accused of having leaked a multitude of Army reports and diplomatic cables that – once published by Wikileaks – dealt a humiliating blow to the US government in terms of its military and diplomatic agendas.
Manning has a passionate group of supporters who believe that he deserves honors and praise for exposing war crimes and atrocities committed by US forces in the context of its “War on Terror,” according to the defendant’s advocacy website. He has reportedly been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 and 2012.
Not convinced that a 24-year-old analyst should be entitled to balance the interests of national security and transparency according to his own calculus, the US government acted swiftly to stop the leak.
In May 2010 – the month following Wikileaks’ release of the Iraq video – Manning was arrested in Kuwait. He was charged the following month for having leaked classified documents, according to his advocacy website.
Manning isn’t the only potential martyr to US transparency.
Wikileaks founder and chief editor Julian Assange has remained in hiding in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 2012 based on the leap of logic that if he were to be extradited by UK authorities to Sweden, he could face the death penalty in the US.
Assange has gained international notoriety in recent years for having exposed scores of sensitive and secret documents via his website Wikileaks. The present saga began, however, when the British Supreme Court upheld in May an order to extradite Assange to Sweden, where he is sought for questioning in connection with alleged sexual offenses.
After having lost his final shot at the UK shielding him from Swedish justice, Assange applied for asylum in Ecuador. Ecuador in turn agreed to the asylum grant based on concerns that Assange might ultimately face the death penalty if extradited to the US.
If convicted in the US under the 1917 Espionage Act on the basis of his Wikileaks work, Assange could face capital punishment.
However, the UK only wanted to extradite Assange to Sweden to face sexual offense allegations, not to the US to face espionage charges.
If it is ultimately requested, Assange’s extradition from Sweden would only be legally feasible in the context of US assurance that capital punishment would be absolutely off the table.