Manning opts not to testify in WikiLeaks hearing
Bradley Manning, the US army soldier accused of releasing reams of classified US diplomatic data to internet whistleblower WikiLeaks, on Wednesday waived his option to testify at a military hearing on the case, dpa reported.
Instead, Manning's attorneys spent Wednesday using the hearing - which will determine if there is enough evidence for a court martial - to question witnesses whose testimony they hope will exonerate him.
The hearing is expected to conclude Thursday with closing arguments, after seven days of testimony and legal arguments. A verdict is expected by mid-January.
Starting in late 2010 and lasting for several months, thousands of documents were published by WikiLeaks in the international media, causing diplomatic embarrassment and alleged security concerns for the United States. They included video footage of a 2007 helicopter gunship attack in Baghdad that killed 12 people, including a news agency cameraman.
In all, Manning, 24, is charged with 22 violations of military law, including one charge of aiding the enemy. Theoretically, a guilty verdict in that case could mean the death penalty, though army prosecutors have said they do not intend to pursue that course, instead seeking a life sentence if the case goes to trial.
The first five days of the hearing have seen the prosecution try to establish a clear link between Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Those include chat protocols between the two discovered on Manning's computer.
The defence has focused on Manning's emotional problems, trying to argue that a soldier with gender identification issues like Manning should never have been let near classified data. They have also noted that he was prone to violence and disobeyed superiors, further signs, they say, that he should have been supervised more closely.
Other testimony has noted that the army computer centre in Iraq, where Manning is accused of having accessed the classified data, was insecure. Witnesses have described a workplace where soldiers worked without supervision, routinely downloading games and movies onto computers meant for classified data.