By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun
6:39 PM EST, February 3, 2012
The commander of the Military District of Washington has ordered a court-martial for Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the former intelligence analyst accused of giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington made the decision Friday after reviewing testimony and arguments from a preliminary hearing at Fort Meade in December, officials said.
There was no word on whether the as-yet-unscheduled court-martial would also be held at Fort Meade, one of three installations within the military district equipped to host such a proceeding.
Manning, 24, is charged with aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Manning 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.
The U.S. Army Trial Judiciary will now assign a military judge, who will set a date for Manning's arraignment, motion hearings and trial.
During a preliminary hearing in December, Army prosecutors called computer forensic investigators who testified that materials uploaded to WikiLeaks came from computers on which Manning worked.
Manning's attorneys sought to portray him as a troubled young man who struggled with gender identity, was isolated from his fellow soldiers and should not have been given access to the classified materials.
Manning, who lived in Potomac and studied at Montgomery College before he enlisted in the Army in 2007, attended the hearing but did not speak. It was his first public appearance since his arrest in Iraq in May 2010.
During his detention, his case became a cause celebre among anti-war activists, who say the footage of the 2007 Apache helicopter attack that he is alleged to have released appears to show evidence of a war crime.
The attack in Baghdad left 12 dead, including a Reuters journalist and his driver. In the video, released by WikiLeaks as "Collateral Murder," the American helicopter crew can be heard laughing and referring to Iraqis as "dead bastards."
Manning's supporters say whoever released the footage is a hero who should be protected as a whistle-blower.
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