Manning denied a whistleblower defense

The soldier will only be permitted to give limited evidence on his motives for leaking documents

Published January 18, 2013 2:06PM (EST)

In a potential blow to his defense, Pfc. Bradley Manning has been largely denied the opportunity to present evidence about his motives for leaking documents to WikiLeaks in his upcoming trial.

Manning's defense attorney David Coombs has argued in the soldier's pretrial hearings at Fort Meade that Manning's intentions to act as a whistleblower show he had no desire to harm U.S. interests. However, military judge Col. Denise Lind on Thursday's pretrial session ruled that the defense would not be permitted to argue motive except against the specific charge that Manning knew giving information to WikiLeaks meant he was “dealing with the enemy.”

Kevin Gozstola, reporting from Fort Meade, detailed the areas where Manning's motive were deemed "immaterial" in Lind's ruling:

The defense would not be able to discuss whether Manning had “good faith” when presenting argument on charges that he “wrongfully and wantonly cause[d] to be published on the internet intelligence belonging to the United States government,” or for charges where the government only has to prove Manning had “reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”

However, Judge Army Col. Denise Lind determined the defense could raise such evidence when addressing the “aiding the enemy” charge in order to prove he did not know passing information on to WikiLeaks would result in “dealing with the enemy.”

The 22-year-old soldier's motives are admissible during sentencing, but only after a guilty sentence or a plea deal is reached.

As Manning nears his 1,000 day in pretrial detention, with his the trial portion of his court martial still over four months away, his defense argued this week in a pretrial motion that the defendant's right to a speedy trial has been violated. Judge Lind will rule on this motion in late February.


By 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

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Aiding The Enemy Bradley Manning Fort Meade Pretrial Hearing Whilstleblower Wikileaks