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Closing Arguments In Bradley Manning Court Martial, This Thursday

Above: Courtroom scene by Clark Stoeckley

What: Court Martial proceedings for United States vs. PFC Bradley Manning

When: Thursday, July 25, 9:30am, EST. Credentialed media check in at 7am

Where: Magistrate Court, 4432 Llewellyn Ave, Ft. Meade, MD

On Thursday, the prosecution and defense in the case of WikiLeaks whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning will deliver their closing arguments before military judge Col. Denise Lind for the merits phase of the trial, which will determine his guilt or innocence for “Aiding the Enemy” and other major charges. Judge Lind will also rule on two remaining defense motions to direct a not-guilty verdict on charges of stealing government property.

Credentialed media are to arrive for the press pool escort onto the base between 7:00-8:00 a.m., by way of the Reece Rd & Annapolis Rd (MD 175) gate’s visitor parking lot. Journalists without credentials from the Ft. Meade Public Affairs Office are permitted to cover these open sessions from the courtroom and spectator trailer at 4432 Llewellyn Ave.  Closing arguments are expected to begin early in Thursday’s morning session, immediately after Lind’s ruling on defense motions.

Earlier this year, PFC Manning pled guilty to 10 lesser charges relating to misusing classified information, stating “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information… this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy.” Government prosecutors have continued to pursue 12 additional offenses including Aiding the Enemy, Espionage, and theft of government property.

According to the defense, Manning was focused exclusively on getting information to the American public and had no intent to aid America’s enemies. The defense is expected to draw upon testimony from witnesses such as Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler, who explained the value of Manning’s actions toward open journalism and democracy, and Lauren McNamara, who shared statements Manning made to her about the importance of saving lives and getting U.S. soldiers “home safe to their families.”

The defense also challenges the government’s assertion that Manning accessed or downloaded information that he was not already authorized to access.

Following closing arguments, the court will recess for Judge Lind to begin deliberating her verdict. She is expected to announce her decision prior to Wednesday, July 31, when the 2-3 week sentencing phase of the trial is scheduled to start.

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