Judge: Manning endured unlawful pretrial punishment

The military court grants the soldier 112 days sentencing credit but does not drop his charges

Topics: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, David Coombs, adrian lamo, Quantico, Fort Meade, pretrial hearing,

Military judge Col. Denise Lind ruled Tuesday that Pfc. Bradley Manning suffered unlawful pretrial punishment during his nine months held at Quantico. The soldier will thus be granted a sentence reduction of 112 days if he gets convicted, Lind ruled, which is a blow for Manning’s defense team, who were hoping to see their client’s charges dropped.

Although Manning was confined to a windowless, single-occupant cell for 23 hours a day and subjected to a harsh regime of checks and searches, the judge ruled that he had not been held in solitary confinement. She did, however, determine the conditions of Manning’s confinement to be “excessive in relation to legitimate government interests,” according to AP reports.

Wednesday saw the beginning of Manning’s January pretrial hearings, devoted to two motions brought by the government to limit or prevent certain evidence from being presented in the soldier’s trial.

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According to Kevin Gosztola, reporting from Fort Meade, Md., Manning’s defense lawyer David Coombs today argued that questions of motive should be allowed to be raised during the trial. “He said the defense would like to argue that Manning selected information he believed would not cause damage to the U.S.. This ‘subjective belief is relevant.’” The military prosecutors argue that Manning’s motives are irrelevant to determining whether he committed the offenses for which he is charged.

The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington, also reporting from the hearing, noted that Coombs told the court he “would be calling as a witness Adrian Lamo, the hacker who alerted military authorities to Manning’s WikiLeaks activities, to give evidence about the Web chat he had with Manning shortly before the soldier’s arrest in Iraq in March 2010. The content of the Web chat, Coombs suggested, would be used by the defense to show that Manning selected information to leak that ‘could not be used to harm the US or advantage any foreign nation’.”

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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