A military judge declined to dismiss the "aiding the enemy" charge facing Pfc. Bradley Manning, a decision that could have a chilling effect on those considering leaking government documents. In effect, the decision shows that enabling documents to be released on the Internet can be considered an assist to enemies of the state since the enemies presumably have access to the Internet. For Manning, who's on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks, a conviction could mean life in prison.
Judge Denise Lind decided to reject a defense motion to dismiss a government charge that Bradley Manning “aided the enemy” when he turned over 700,000 military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks because some of that material was read by Osama bin Laden.
Lind cited as reasons for her decision the “accused’s training and experience and preparation” and the volume of classified information disclosed to WikiLeaks. Those factors effectively buttressed the government’s charge that Manning “knowingly provided information to the enemy,” Lind decided.
The judge said that because Manning maintained and possessed intelligence publications, he would have been aware of the use of the Internet by terrorist organizations. She noted that Manning was trained as an all-source intelligence analyst and would have learned in that training that when U.S. forces were conducting operations, critical information must be protected.
The article quoted Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, calling the charge "unconstitutional" and "unnecessary." “The point of charging Manning in this way is to transform what was widely seen around the world as a valuable leak into treason. The government purports to criminalize any information that is published somewhere where the enemy can see it.”