Bradley Manning Trial Begins At Fort Meade

Private Bradley Manning, 25, faces his first day on trial Monday -- accused of the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history -- with prosecutors saying his actions aided the enemy.

His charges stem from providing more than 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks, an international, online, non-profit organization which publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. The leak included a video showing an Apache helicopter kill a group of civilians and two Reuters journalists in Iraq.

Manning, who has already admitted to releasing the information to Wikileaks said the move was intended to spark renewed debate on U.S. military action. "I take full responsibility for my actions," he said at the time. "I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience." But the government says the leaks damaged national security and endangered American lives. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

The military trial at Fort Meade, Maryland, is expected to run until at least late August. Prosecutors have said they expect to call more than 100 witnesses.

Civil liberties groups say the court-martial has been shrouded in secrecy and threatens to stifle whistleblowers.

Manning faces 21 counts, including the most serious one of aiding the enemy, as well as prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917.

At least three witnesses will be called today, including two special agents who inspected the crime scene in Iraq, and Manning's former roommate, Eric Baker, a military police officer. Baker said at the pre-trial that Manning suggested the army wasn't 'for him.'

Russia Today is live updating, and reports that there is a large media turnout for the trial, and protesters are on the scene in support of Bradley Manning.

Ed Pilkington of The Guardian will also be live Tweeting from Fort Meade.


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