By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun
10:07 PM EST, February 23, 2012
Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the former intelligence analyst accused in the largest leak of classified material in U.S. history, was formally charged Thursday with aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act.
Manning, who is accused of giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, declined to enter a plea during the arraignment at Fort Meade.
He also deferred a decision on whether he wants his case to be decided by a single military judge, a panel of officers, or a panel of officers and enlisted soldiers.
He will not be required to choose until shortly before the trial. He doesn't have to enter a plea until the trial begins.
If convicted of the charges, Manning, 24, could be sentenced to life in prison. Aiding the enemy is a capital offense, but Army prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty.
The slight soldier wore a dress uniform during the proceeding before military judge Col. Denise Lind. He sat at a table with his civilian attorney and two military attorneys, and spoke only to affirm that he understood his rights and to name the members of his defense team.
Lind also presided over the 2010 trial at Fort Meade of Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, the Army doctor who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he doubted that President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Lakin pleaded guilty to disobeying orders.
The sides are due back at Fort Meade on March 15 for a motions hearing. Lind did not set a date for the trial.
Manning, who lived in Potomac and studied at Montgomery College before he joined the Army in 2007, is accused of sending raw field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies around the world and a video of a U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad to be published online by WikiLeaks.
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