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July 26, 2013

Manning arguments wrap up; judge to deliberate

FORT MEADE, Md. — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's fate was in the hands of a military judge Friday after nearly two months of conflicting portrayals of the soldier: a traitor who gave WikiLeaks classified secrets for worldwide attention and a young, naive intelligence officer who wanted people to know about the atrocities of war.

Judge Col. Denise Lind said she will start deliberating Friday on the 21 charges Manning faces, but she did not say when she would rule, only that she will give the public a day's notice before her announcement. The most serious charge is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence in prison.

During closing arguments, defense attorney David Coombs said Manning was negligent in releasing classified material, but he did not know al-Qaida would see the material and did not have "evil intent," a key point prosecutors must prove to convict Manning of aiding the enemy.

Prosecutors contended Manning, 25, knew the material would be seen across the globe, even by Osama bin Laden, when he started the leaks in late 2009. Manning said the leaks didn't start until February the following year.

"Worldwide distribution, that was his goal," said the military's lead prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein. "Pfc. Manning knew the entire world included the enemy, from his training. He knew he was giving it to the enemy, specifically al-Qaida."

After Coombs finished his three-hour argument, there was a smattering of applause from Manning supporters, who were quickly hushed by the judge.

"All right, that's enough," Lind said. "This is a court of law. I would ask, please, that you keep your reactions muted."

Meanwhile, one of Manning's most visible supporters was banned from the trial Friday after the judge said someone posted threats online. Clark Stoeckley, a college art instructor from New Jersey, confirmed he was the one booted.

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