FORT MEADE, Md. (CN) – A military judge demanded that prosecutors itemize what information they are sharing with, or declining to disclose to, lawyers for Pfc. Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks’ alleged source for the biggest leak in U.S. history.
The anti-secrecy website divided the trove into “Cablegate,” for diplomatic cables; “War Logs,” for incident reports of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; and “Collateral Murder,” for footage of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists.
Although far-reaching impact of the alleged leaks spark global interest in Manning’s case, only a handful of reporters observed the significant developments that took place on at what was expected to be a small discovery hearing on Monday morning.
Manning’s lawyers long have complained that prosecutors have been “hiding the ball” to deprive the 24-year-old soldier from information showing that the leaks exposed corruption without harming national security.
Those arguments appeared to have swayed the military judge, Col. Denise Lind, who granted the defense extensive discovery and her oversight to make sure prosecutors were performing “due diligence.”
“This is a complex case involving multiple government agencies,” the judge noted before making the ruling.
Lind said that the prosecutors must clarify when they became aware of the information they turned over to the defense, when they shared the files, what the files were and how vigorously they questioned their contacts at more than 60 agencies that assessed the impacts of the Wikileaks disclosures.
She added that the government must turn over so-called “damage assessments” by the Department of State, Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX), Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency-Wikileaks Task Force.
The court will review the FBI documents before turning them over to the defense, and the CIA documents will remain redacted for classified information.
Manning’s lawyers will not have access to the assessments of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, she added.
Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, asked Lind to pause trial until prosecutors finished performing their “due diligence” obligations. Lind stopped short of that measure, but she allowed the defense to make such a motion again when it raises speedy trial objections at a future discovery hearing.
A press liaison for the Bradley Manning Support Network hailed the ruling.
“It’s definitely heartening to see that David Coombs’ arguments are resonating with the judge,” said Zack Pesavento. “The prosecution appears to have been deliberately misunderstanding its requirements to the defense.”