Landmark Delays in Manning Court-Martial, Lawyer Says

     (CN) - Building a case against alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning has taken nearly three times as long as it took to build the Empire State Building, a lawyer for the young soldier claims.
     The 24-year-old private first class has been incarcerated since May 2010 for allegedly sending hundreds of thousands of files with U.S. diplomatic and wartime secrets to WikiLeaks.
     Manning spent his 845th day in confinement on Sept. 19, attorney David Coombs said, marking the occasion with a new motion to dismiss all charges.
     By the expected start of trial on Feb. 4, 2013, that number will be approaching a thousand days, Coombs said.
     "To put this amount of time into perspective, the Empire State Building could have been constructed almost two-and-a-half times over in the amount of time it will have taken to bring PFC Manning to trial," the motion states.
     Construction of the Empire State building, by contrast, took a record one year and 45 days in 1931.
     If construction workers could finish what was then the tallest building in the world ahead of schedule in 410 days, military lawyers have no excuse for their "extreme foot-dragging" in prosecuting an allegedly record-breaking leak, Coombs says.
     To bypass the military's 120-day speedy trial clock, prosecutors have allegedly characterized "federal weekends and holidays" as "excludable delays."
     Coombs says there is no case law supporting the maneuver.
     "Meanwhile, PFC Manning remained in pretrial confinement for all of December 2011 and January 2012, including on federal holidays and weekends," the motion states.
     The court-martial process officially began this February, as Manning deferred a plea on any of the 22 charges against him.
     Toward the end of the 117-page motion, Coombs accuses prosecutors of making an "absolute mockery" of speedy trial protections.
     "All have lost as a result of the Government's shameful and unjustifiable delay in this case," the motion states. "PFC Manning has lost. The United States Government has lost. The entire system of military justice has lost. There is only one adequate remedy for such a total loss: dismissal of all charges with prejudice."
     Prosecutors have not made their counterarguments public because rules for court-martial currently allow for legal filings and judicial rulings to be placed under seal.
     Coombs and prosecutors will argue speedy trial issues before the military judge, Col. Denise Lind, on Oct. 29.