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Manning seeks dismissal of some charges in trial

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

The US soldier who admitted to leaking a trove of secret documents to WikiLeaks will ask a military judge Monday to dismiss some charges against him in his espionage trial, a legal officer said.

Defense lawyers are scheduled to begin presenting the case for Bradley Manning on Monday but first plan to file motions arguing the prosecution has failed to back up four charges, a military officer told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Manning, 25, has admitted to giving WikiLeaks more than 700,000 secret military intelligence files and diplomatic cables in the worst leak of classified information in American history.

But he is contesting 21 charges, including the most serious count that he "aided the enemy" by funnelling the files to the anti-secrecy website.

The prosecution rested its case last week but suffered an embarrassing setback after acknowledging the military had lost the contract Manning signed laying out the terms of his access to classified information.

Manning's defense lawyers are likely to argue for a dismissal of computer fraud charges due to the missing contract, which governed his access to secret files on his work computer in Iraq.

With the trial entering its sixth week, Manning's lawyers announced the first 10 witnesses that will be called to the stand, as they seek to counter the prosecution's portrayal of him as a traitor who knew his leaks could help Al-Qaeda.

One of the witnesses due to appear is retired Colonel Morris Davis, a former prosecutor of terror suspects for military tribunals at the "War on Terror" prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Davis has since turned into a critic of how the US government prosecutes and detains suspected militants linked to Al-Qaeda.

Another witness due to testify is Lauren McNamara, a civilian who reportedly chatted with Manning online in 2009.

Defense lawyer David Coombs has previously described Manning as a "naive" but well-intentioned soldier, who wanted to inform the public about US foreign policy and the conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If convicted of "aiding the enemy," Manning could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Manning's case has taken on added importance in the aftermath of another round of bombshell leaks from a former contractor for the National Security Agency.

Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong and later to Moscow after handing over documents to the media uncovering far-reaching electronic surveillance of phone records and Internet traffic.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130708/manning-seeks-dismissal-some-charges-trial